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On his return from Darfur, ICRC President deplores worsening conditions for the region's population

21-02-2007 News Release 07/19

Khartoum/Geneva (ICRC) - Jakob Kellenberger, the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), returns today from a five-day visit to the Sudan, which took place against a background of increasing violence and deteriorating security in many parts of Darfur.

 
© ICRC / Adil Sherif / sd-e-01527 
 
18.02.2007. President Kellenberger out in Gereida camp, South Darfur. 
     
 
 
© ICRC / Adil Sherif / sd-e-01526 
 
18.02.2007. President Kellenberger with the Sheiks in Gereida camp, South Darfur. 
     
 
 
© ICRC / Issam Abdelhafiez / sd-e-01528 
 
20.02.2007. President Kellenberger with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lam Akol in Khartoum. 
     
 
  

In the course of his journey, Mr Kellenberger went to Gereida, Nyala and Al Fashir in South and North Darfur and Juba in southern Sudan. The main objectives of this visit, his third to the Sudan since 2004, were:

  • To gain a first-hand, on-the-spot idea of the current humanitarian and security situation in Darfur;

  • To urge the representatives of the government, Mini Minawi's faction of the SLA and armed groups who have not signed the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) to comply with their obligation under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and to spare them from harm.

  • To request safe access for the ICRC to those in need.

Over recent months, as fighting has escalated in many parts of Darfur, people have fled to more remote areas, making it harder for aid workers to reach them. Those who have stayed in their villages have been unable to tend their fields or go to local markets because of the violence and insecurity. In addition, traditional coping mechanisms have broken down. Nomadic communities have also been prevented from travelling centuries-old migration routes. This has meant that animals have congregated in small areas, thereby placing an additional strain on water resources and grazing land.

For the ICRC, which is largely focusing its assistance and protection activities on rural areas rather than the camps, these are alarming signals, because unless these areas can be safely accessed, agencies'ability to respond will increasingly fall short of the needs of the people living there. Whole communities are therefore being caught up in a spiral of destitution leading them to seek refuge in the camps, which are already overflowing. The visit to Gereida was mainly prompted by the fact that the ICRC, as the only remaining humanitarian actor with expatriate staff on the ground, has had to take over assistance activities in this camp and supply the some 120,000 internally displaced people living in it with food, water and health care.

The ICRC currently has a staff of 160 expatriates and over 1,800 national staff based in all three Darfur States, southern Sudan and Khartoum. The ICRC has been active in the Sudan since 1984, owing to the civil war in the south and in Darfur since 2004.

 
For further information, please contact:
  Jessica Barry, ICRC Khartoum, tel. +249 9121 70576
  Marco Yuri Jiménez Rodríguez, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 79 217 3217

 Read also press briefing: Darfur: ICRC president demands improved security