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Nigeria: surgical team deployed at hospitals in north

02-07-2012 Operational Update

The ICRC is providing support for selected hospitals where casualties were taken following recent violence. It opened an office in Jos and is stepping up its operations in violence-prone areas of northern Nigeria.

"On 17 June, multiple bombings and the reprisals that followed caused dozens of casualties in Kaduna and Zaria," said Zoran Jovanovic, the head of the ICRC delegation in Nigeria. "Our new surgical team was deployed to help the local medical personnel at St Gerard Hospital in Kaduna treat patients." The incidents also resulted in the displacement of hundreds of people to safer places in the city of Kaduna.

Under the terms of an agreement being formalized with the Ministry of Health, the ICRC surgical team is ready to be deployed anywhere in the country to assist hospitals facing mass-casualty situations.

"Medical personnel attending to patients who have suffered bomb-blast or gunshot injuries require special training," said Mr Jovanovic. "As agreed with the authorities, our surgical team will provide hands-on training on how to treat patients with weapon-related injuries. The ICRC's assessments of almost 60 health-care facilities and a workshop with 35 Nigerian surgeons showed that this can make a real difference for those patients."

The ICRC has been monitoring the situation constantly after major incidents of violence in the states of Borno, Bauchi, Kaduna, Plateau, Kano, Yobe and in the Federal Capital Abuja. In the first half of 2012, the ICRC provided more than 15 hospitals with urgently needed medical supplies, including wound-dressing materials and intravenous fluids in places where casualty numbers were high.

Aid for victims of inter-community violence

Violence between farming and nomadic communities – a decades-old reality in Nigeria – takes a heavy toll in human lives and is often under-reported. From its newly opened office in the city of Jos, the ICRC has taken action rapidly following clashes between communities in the states of Plateau and Bauchi. In April, the ICRC and the Nigerian Red Cross Society brought much-needed food and other essential items to more than 3,600 people suffering the effects of the clashes.

Furthermore, following the 17 June bombings and reprisal violence, the ICRC in collaboration with the Nigerian Red Cross provided food and other essentials for 1,100 displaced people in Kaduna.

Enhanced access to health-care services for Niger Delta communities

Together with the Ministry of Health in the state of Rivers, the ICRC has been providing immunization and other forms of health care for people in remote villages on the creeks of the Niger Delta, in southern Nigeria.

The communities, which have been affected by armed violence in the past, are reachable only by boat and are particularly exposed to malaria, respiratory infections, and skin and waterborne diseases.

Since the beginning of the year, communities in isolated areas of Rivers state have been given better opportunities to obtain primary health care. So far, over 3,500 people living in 20 communities have been vaccinated against polio and tetanus and given vitamin A supplements, de-worming tablets and mosquito nets.

Because access to clean water can also be a major problem for people in these areas, the ICRC built four shallow wells benefiting some 1,200 people in all.

First-aid training

Nigerian Red Cross volunteers are present throughout the country and are often the first to reach, treat and collect people injured in violence. In the 10 states where it is currently working, the ICRC has helped strengthen the national network of the Nigerian Red Cross of over 100 emergency response teams.

With ICRC support, the Nigerian Red Cross has also expanded its community-based first-aid activities. Over 700 members of 27 communities in violence-prone areas were trained in the first half of 2012. The skills they learn can save the lives of victims of acts of violence, road accidents and other serious incidents.

Promoting humanitarian rules

So far this year, the ICRC has held information sessions and workshops on international humanitarian law and other rules on the use of force for over 800 officers from the Nigerian Armed Forces and for units, such as the Special Task Force in Plateau state, involved in internal security operations. In the Niger Delta, similar briefings have taken place for Joint Task Force units, twinned with first-aid training. In addition, at the request of the National Defence College, the ICRC conducted a seminar for 120 senior officers on the protection of the civilian population.

Dialogue with senior police officials focused on the treatment of those arrested in connection with violence. Tailored briefings were given for 150 police officers in Jos and Port Harcourt. In addition, the ICRC improved living conditions at the police detention centre in Jos by upgrading the water supply system, completely renovating the sanitary facilities and improving light and ventilation in the cells.

The ICRC also continued to promote implementation of international humanitarian law by the Nigerian authorities and the teaching of this branch of law in 20 universities.

Humanitarian diplomacy with ECOWAS

The ICRC has maintained close relations with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with which it regularly exchanges views on humanitarian issues of common interest in the greater West African region.

In February, at a seminar held annually in Abuja, measures for better implementation of international humanitarian law were discussed with 14 ECOWAS member States. In April, the ICRC also held a round-table discussion aimed at helping ECOWAS member States develop a strong common position in connection with the upcoming Arms Trade Treaty negotiations.

For further information, please contact:
Rafiullah Qureshi, ICRC Abuja, tel: +234 9 461 96 13 or +234 703 595 41 68
Steven Anderson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 20 11 or +41 79 536 92 50


Photos

Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria, May 2012. Community members attend a Nigerian Red Cross first-aid course. 

Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria, May 2012. Community members attend a Nigerian Red Cross first-aid course.
© ICRC / H. Murdock

Kaduna, Nigeria, June 2012. Nigerian Red Cross staff distribute relief goods to victims of reprisal violence. 

Kaduna, Nigeria, June 2012. Nigerian Red Cross staff distribute relief goods to victims of reprisal violence.
© ICRC / J. Unger

Riyum, Plateau State, Nigeria, May 2012. ICRC staff distribute relief goods to victims of inter-communal violence. 

Riyum, Plateau State, Nigeria, May 2012. ICRC staff distribute relief goods to victims of inter-communal violence.
© ICRC / J. Unger

Barkin Lardi, Plateau State, Nigeria, April 2012. Troops of the Special Task Force attend a session on rules applicable during internal security operations. 

Barkin Lardi, Plateau State, Nigeria, April 2012. Troops of the Special Task Force attend a session on rules applicable during internal security operations.
© ICRC / R. Qureshi

This photo (taken elsewhere in Africa) shows an ICRC surgical team like the one currently supporting Nigerian medics in Kaduna. 

This photo (taken elsewhere in Africa) shows an ICRC surgical team like the one currently supporting Nigerian medics in Kaduna.
© ICRC