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Sudan bulletin No. 21 - 21 January 2005

21-01-2005 Operational Update

Latest report on ICRC activities in the field

 General situation  

    

The signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement by the government of Sudan and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in Nairobi on 9 January put an end to the 20-year conflict in the south of the country, leading to celebrations and a two-day, upbeat tour around southern Sudan by the president of the republic and high-ranking government officials.

The chairman of the SPLM/A indicated that he intended to move the organization’s political and administrative offices to Juba, 300 kilometres southeast from Rumbek, where they are presently situated.

Following the peace agreement, the UN Security Council is likely to send a multi-national peace-support mission of up to 10,000 troops to southern Sudan within the coming weeks, although full deployment may still take several months.

 ICRC HIGHLIGHTS  

    

The government of Sudan and the SPLM/A have formally requested the ICRC to facilitate the release and transfer of all persons detained in connection with the conflict in the south. The ICRC has agreed to do so on the basis of its mandate and in its role as a neutral intermediary. In this regard a memorandum of understanding stating the ICRC’s working procedures and the principles governing the release and transfer of detainees has been submitted to the parties. Once the memorandum is signed, the ICRC will be i n a position to register the detainees, arrange for their voluntary repatriation and hand them over to the relevant authorities. The whole process is likely to take several weeks.

The ICRC has been visiting persons detained by the SPLM/A since 1989. In 2004 alone, the organization visited persons deprived of their freedom in over 70 countries across the globe.

 Restoring family links  

The ongoing conflict in Darfur has forced hundreds of thousands of families to leave their homes in search of food and safe haven. Since many people lose contact with their relatives during such displacements, the ICRC is continuing to expand its tracing network so as to cope with the growing demand. Over 15 new tracing antennas will open in the coming weeks, mainly in camps for the displaced throughout the Darfur states and eastern Chad.

    

Since the beginning of the year, 239 Red Cross messages have been collected in Sudan and from Darfuris refugees in Chad. The ICRC has so far distributed 224 messages, 153 in Sudan and 71 to Darfuris in Chad.

 Health care  

In Northern Darfur , the ICRC has assessed needs in the town of Sayah and its surrounding area. Respiratory infections, diarrhoea, rheumatism and malaria were identified as the most common afflictions.

In Southern Darfur , the ICRC recently donated two dressing sets, antibiotics, painkillers and other medical supplies to Nyala Teaching Hospital. A four-day polio vaccination campaign was also conducted for 7,000 people in G ereida, as well as for nomad groups in Zalingei, in Western Darfur .

 Food distribution  

Since the beginning of the year, the ICRC has distributed 215 tonnes of food and 6,822 essential household items to 15,124 people in Northern Darfur and 413.5 tonnes of food to 22,146 people in Southern Darfur, where it recently carried out a further economic security assessment in Bor and Pibor.

 Preventive action  

In order to foster acceptance and understanding of the ICRC’s operation and secure access to people in need, information sessions on the ICRC, its mandate and the purpose of its activities are organized for many different types of public. Over the past weeks, seven sessions have been held in Darfur for community leaders, local journalists, university teachers and representatives of the Sudanese armed forces. In Juba, in southern Sudan , five presentations have been given to community leaders, local authorities, member of various armed groups and the Sudanese air force.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Lorena Brander Bastias, tel. ++249 9 121 37334  

 Marco Jiménez Rodríguez ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 79 217 3217