Nepal: ICRC activities in 2004
19-03-2005 Operational Update
In agreement with the parties to the conflict, the ICRC carries out a broad range of humanitarian activities in connection with the ongoing conflict in Nepal. The following is an account of the organization's operations during 2004.
During 2004, ICRC delegates visited over 1,650 detainees in some 340 places of detention (jails, police stations and army camps). The ICRC also had access to detainees held by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) CPN-M.
ICRC health delegates participated in visits to detainees and, in close cooperation with the Prison Management Department, supported the improvement of health conditions inside places of detention.
In April, the ICRC acted as a neutral intermediary on two occasions to facilitate the release of 76 people captured by the CPN-M.
In 2004, the number of allegations of arrests collected by the ICRC showed a marked increase. Lists of those reported as arrested were submitted to both parties to the conflict. Several hundred persons had neither been seen in prison nor reported released.
The ICRC and the Nepalese Red Cross Society worked together to allow detainees to keep in touch with their families through the exchange of Red Cross messages. This service was also offered to others separated by the conflict. Almost 1,200 Red Cross Messages were delivered in 2004.
ICRC delegates regularly monitored the security and living conditions of the civilian population in areas affected by the conflict and gave feedback to civilian and military authorities and CPN-M leaders.
Through its operations, the ICRC aims to improve the quality and access to medical services for arms carriers and civilians alike by supporting key medical facilities. The ICRC donated medical supplies (gauze, gloves, bandages, x-ray film, etc.) to the TU Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu, the Bheri Zonal Hospital in Nepalganj and to other medical facilities.
The organization provided transportation expenses to 85 victims of the conflict so they could receive medical treatment. A further 18 patients who had undergone surgery also received financial support for their treatment and follow-up visits.
In November, as part of the 7th International Conference of Surgeons of Nepal held in Kathmandu, the ICRC sponsored and participated in a symposium on war surgery for about 150 surgeons. The ICRC also provided war surgery training to approximately 100 medical personnel from both parties to the conflict.
In cooperation with the Green Pastures Hospital in Pokhara and the NRCS, 64 amputees were fitted with artificial limbs during 2004. This programme, which began in May 2004, will continue in the coming years. The ICRC supports all costs for conflict-related amputees.
In cooperation with the NRCS, non-food items comprising utensils, blankets, clothing, tarpaulins and buckets were distributed to around 14,000 people affected by the conflict.
Water and habitat
The ICRC began improving the quantity and quality of the water supply in five jails, including Kathmandu Central prison, in order to provide detainees with drinking water. Another 13 prisons were assessed with work planned to begin in 2005.
In addition, the ICRC has selected rural areas of Jumla for the rehabilitation of water systems. This programme currently includes 13 villages, while another 40 have been earmarked for work to begin in 2005 if possible. Village water committees are actively involved in the repair works.
Through the year, it constantly reminded both parties to the conflict to respect IHL, making presentations on IHL to security forces, Red Cross personnel, CPN–M, and representatives of the authorities and of civil society. Moreover, the ICRC has been encouraging the concerned authorities to ratify several IHL instruments and to incorporate them into national legislation.
Within this framework, the ICRC conducted two five-day instructors’ courses on IHL for the Royal Nepal Army (RNA), the Armed Police Force (APF) and the Nepal Police (NP). These courses qualified more than 30 officers to conduct training for their own staff members.
The ICRC also conducted three short seminars on IHL for 83 RNA and 168 APF officers throughout the country. Two IHL refresher courses for 30 NP officers were held in Kathmandu and in Pokhara.
The ICRC sponsored one officer from the RNA and one from the APF who participated in the International Military Advanced Course on Law of Armed Conflict held in San Remo, Italy.
Numerous discussions on IHL, ICRC activities and mandate were held with representatives of the CPN-M throughout the country.
The ICRC also sponsored four people representing the government and non-governmental sector to take part in the South Asian Teaching Session on IHL and Refugee Law held in Bangalore, India.
In order to enable the National Society to assist the victims of the conflict and promote IHL, the ICRC supports the NRCS both financially and technically.
For example, 41 NRCS volunteers participated in two seminars on " Conflict Preparedness and Response Capacity " . 22 volunteers were also trained in the promotion of IHL.
In order to increase the access of the wounded to medical care in remote areas, the NRCS and the ICRC trained more than 112 volunteers in emergency first aid.
Following the heavy floods and landslides in July, the ICRC supported the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the NRCS and other National Societies in their efforts to provide relief assistance to the victims.
The ICRC is also collaborating with the NRCS in running a radio programme on Red Cross issues and activities.