Congo Brazzaville: 1st quarter 2003
01-04-2003 Operational Update
Aid programme for displaced persons from Pool - Limited assistance in Mindouli and Kinkala - Visit of people held in connection with the conflict; some releases - Fresh start of activities in the North
During the first quarter of 2003, the ICRC set up an aid programme for displaced persons from Pool, based on Brazzaville and Dolisie. The programme concentrated on people living to the south of the capital.
The ICRC has been unable to work in Pool, but has held numerous discussions with the authorities there, to remain abreast of the situation in general and needs in particular. It has been possible to provide limited assistance in Mindouli and Kinkala.
The ICRC has continued to visit people held in connection with the conflict, and was present at the simultaneous release on 25 March of persons held by the CNR and by the Congolese authorities.
We have conducted several field trips in the north of the country, in Plateaux, Cuvette, Sangha and Likouala departments, helping to re-establish family links, promoting international humanitarian law and assisting persons deprived of their freedom. The ICRC was able to conduct similar activities in Bouenza, Niari and Lekoumou.
The ICRC visits persons detain ed in connection with armed conflict, to ensure that they are being held under decent physical and psychological conditions. The organization signed an agreement with the competent authorities regarding such visits on 12 December 1999.
Over the last three months, the ICRC has visited 32 places of detention run by the ministries of defence, justice and the police. At the request of the special police station in Brazzaville Station, the ICRC built enough basic latrines for about 50 people.
Following renewal of the ceasefire and armistice agreements of 1999, the Congolese government and the CNR asked the ICRC to be present on 25 March, when 14 FAC soldiers and four civilians held by the Ninjas were released simultaneously with 21 persons held by the Congolese authorities. Before these persons were released, the ICRC had held private interviews with them, assessed their health and verified their identities.
The ICRC has:
collected 790 Red Cross messages (RCMs) and distributed them abroad;
collected 1,068 RCMs outside the country and distributed them within the Congo.
In addition, we were able to locate some 20 unaccompanied Congolese children.
The ICRC donated eight drums of calcium hypochlorite, each weighing 40 kg, to the regional head office of the national water authority in Brazzaville, so they could disinfect a reservoir with a capacity of 10,000 cubic metres at Ngamako sso. The reservoir supplies some 900,000 people.
To improve hygiene conditions for displaced persons from Pool currently living south of Brazzaville, the ICRC carried out the following work:
Loua: installed 52 showers, dug 13 cesspits, renovated a water point, installed a hand pump and disinfected a cesspit (3,535 beneficiaries);
Mansimou: built 38 showers and dug 19 cesspits (2,000 beneficiaries);
Kimbanguist church, Massissia: built four showers and dug one cesspit. (917 beneficiaries).
Mindouli: the water main had fractured due to erosion. The pipe has now been connected to the hospital and parish reservoirs, restoring water to the town (20,000 beneficiaries).
Komono centre: renovated the Kardia hand pump at the health centre (1,600 beneficiaries);
Zanaga centre: renovated the hand-operated bore-hole pump at the social centre (867 beneficiaries);
Kengué/Mbomo: built two water points with hand pumps at two primary schools and two centres (1,787 beneficiaries);
Tongo: built two water points with hand pumps in area No. 3 and at the health centre (1,337 beneficiaries).
The ICRC has provided supplies for 4,159 families (11,072 people) who have fled from Pool and are living at nine sites on the southern perimeter of Brazzaville. The supplies consisted of mats, mosquito nets, blankets, buckets and cooking pots, plus clothes, sandals and lengths of clo th to make into skirts. In the period up to the end of March, 756 families at Loua each received a bucket.
The ICRC has also been providing food and non-food aid to the special school run by the Sisters of Charity, who look after 700 people every week. The ICRC supplied 1,000 kg of rice, 600 kg of beans, 250 litres of oil, three bales of clothing and 28 bars of soap. This enabled the Sisters of Charity to assist 300 IDPs from Pool.
The ICRC carried out a needs assessment in the villages of Imvouba, Inga, Odziba and in other villages along Route National No. 2 (known as the “Route du Nord”). Since December 2002, these villages had offered shelter to displaced persons from Ingoloh, Talangaï and surrounding villages. Relief supplies will be delivered in April, and two water points will be renovated.
The ICRC provided food for 2,600 people (1,565 families) who had been displaced in 2002. In total, over 8 tonnes of rice were distributed, along with 3.6 tonnes of beans, 675 litres of oil and 72 kg of salt. A census was taken by first-aiders from the Kinkala Branch of the Congolese Red Cross (CRC), who also distributed the supplies, as the ICRC was unable to work in the southern part of Pool throughout the first quarter of this year.
The ICRC distributed 1.8 tonnes of salt, 3.6 tonnes of beans, 30 pieces of plastic sheeting, three bales of clothes and 50 blankets to the CADRM (Coopérative d’assistance et de développement rural de Mindouli) in Loutété, for displaced persons from Pool.
The ICRC has been supporting Pierre Mobengo military hospital. An assessment of the consumption of medicines and of supplies such as suture thread, dressing and injection kits, plaster, anaesthetics, antibiotics and painkillers, enabled the ICRC to respond to needs as appropriate.
ICRC assistance enabled the hospital to perform 101 operations on 145 casualties during the first quarter of the year. Military personnel and civilians (local people and IDPs) were all treated, without distinction.
With ICRC support, 19 of the detainees released by the authorities and the rebels received medical treatment and individual psychological support at the military hospital.
ICRC assistance enabled various medical facilities to offer improved services to their patients:
Kinkala: the hospital kitchen project initiated in December 2002 continues. Between 60 and 100 ill, malnourished or disadvantaged persons enjoy two meals per day. The ICRC used the food stocks left behind, plus a donation from MSF Holland.
Mindouli (Pool): the ICRC supplied the hospital with dressings and essential medicines.
Loutété (Bouenza): the ICRC supplied medicines to the CADRM health centre, enabling it to treat 188 displaced persons.
Congolese armed forces (Forces Armées Congolaises, FAC)
During a parachute commando exercise, the ICRC and the air force produced a video on the 12 rules of behaviour in combat. The video drew praise from officers, who felt it was highl y appropriate to the Congolese situation.
In February 2003, the ICRC held a refresher course for international humanitarian law instructors who had already undergone ICRC training. Thirteen officers from Brazzaville’s Military Defence Zone 9 took part.
The ICRC also organized international humanitarian law sessions for:
100 FAC personnel at Mossaka (Cuvette Centrale);
54 persons in Gamboma (Plateaux);
120 soldiers from the signals battalion, Brazzaville.
Police and gendarmerie
In February 2003, the ICRC held a workshop in Brazzaville for 11 gendarmerie instructors on teaching international humanitarian law and human rights.
In addition, the ICRC held international humanitarian law sessions for:
34 policemen and 5 gendarmes at Mossaka;
9 gendarmes at Oyo (Cuvette Centrale);
204 policemen from the police school, Brazzaville;
4 policemen and 2 gendarmes at Gamboma;
12 policemen at Dolisie;
41 gendarmes at various locations in Bouenza.
The ICRC took part in the Congolese TV programme Pleine Vie. This gave the ICRC a one-hour slot in which to publicize the organization and its work in the Congo. The programme was broadcast for the first time on 31 March.
The ICRC also ran dissemination sessions in:
Zanaga district (98 persons);
Ngonaka (128 persons);
Vouka, Konomo district (103 persons);
Brazzaville (13 journalists).
The ICRC’s sub-delegation at Dolisie has continued to provide materials and methodology support to the CRC for their awareness-raising operations aimed at the civilian population. The CRC ran the following sessions:
Dolisie Branch: 158 pupils and 12 teachers from Dolisie technical school; 27 journalists.
Bouenza Branch: 47 persons, including CRC volunteers, departmental representatives and journalists.