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Sudan bulletin No. 13 – 24 September 2004

24-09-2004 Operational Update

Latest report on ICRC activities in the field

 DARFUR  

    

 General situation  

Sporadic armed clashes and a rise in banditry in Darfur continued to create an atmosphere of insecurity for the civilian population. Over the past two weeks, around a thousand new families, mainly women and children, have arrived on the outskirts of Al Fashir in Northern Darfur, in search of food and safety. Most of them have come from surrounding villages up to 50 km away from the provincial capital.

Meanwhile, in the Seleia district of Western Darfur, some families, feeling more confident about security, are returning from Chad. They have missed the planting season and have lost most of their belongings, and will be in need of assistance. Across this area, the ICRC has already registered 5,000 households in need – both local and displaced people– in sixty different villages. These numbers are increasing with the arrival of returnees and as ICRC teams reach remoter villages in hitherto unvisited rural areas.

The main problem here as elsewhere is the severe shortage of food, followed by lack of access to health facilities and drugs, both for people and livestock. Restricted freedom of movement as a result of the conflict has also paralysed trade activities, disrupting market supplies and depriving families of their source of income. Millet prices at the mar ket have increased more than twofold. Observations of crop growth and areas planted indicate that the next harvest will be poor, lasting at best two to three months (from November/December). In cattle-breeding areas, many have lost their livestock. This means that a continuing food shortage can be expected in early 2005, leading into the next planting season, when food, seed and tools will be needed.

 ICRC highlights  

On 18 September the ICRC handed over to the Sudanese Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) a group of eight people -- HAC employees and Sudanese journalists -- who had been detained since 18 August. After discussions with the parties involved, the ICRC agreed to act as a neutral intermediary for the release. With the consent of all concerned the group was handed over to the ICRC and brought to the HAC office in Nyala.

 ICRC ACTIVITIES  

    

 Restoring family links  

    

An increasing number of families are turning to the ICRC and Sudanese Red Crescent Society in their search for loved ones they have lost contact with. Over the past week

  • Red Cross messages continued to be exchanged between Sudan and Chad, via ICRC offices in the two countries.

  • The ICRC in Sudan sent 40 tracing requests concerning children to its Chad office, fro m which it in turn received tracing requests for 17 children related to Darfur.

  • Unaccompanied children from Darfur were registered in camps in Sudan and in Chad.

 Assistance  

    

This week the ICRC distributed food to vulnerable households in 43 different villages and one camp in Darfur and consolidated its programme to bring primary health care to families in rural areas. Livestock and nutritional surveys continued in Western and Southern Darfur respectively.

A six-day evaluation trip brought the ICRC to Orore in the northwest of Northern Darfur. ICRC teams are gradually extending their knowledge of needs in parts of the country that are inaccessible for most other organizations.

  • The ICRC transported five war-wounded to hospital in Muhajaria, Southern Darfur, where an ICRC surgical team operated on 17 patients.

  • Longer-term support is being provided to the hospital in Gareida, where an ICRC surgical team gave training in treating war-wounded and carried out nine operations. Drugs and other material were provided for treating medical and surgical emergencies.

  • To improve living conditions for around 40,000 displaced persons in Gareida, the ICRC is supplying water through a nearby borehole and supporting the primary health care centre, together with the British and Australian Red Cross Societies. This week a mass measles vaccination was carried out and Vitamin A provided. Over 7,600 children between the ages of 9 months and 15 years were reached, through the joint efforts of the SRCS, the Ministry of Health and the ICRC. A mobile team of vaccinators is being mobilized to run outreach clinics to increase coverage.

  • In other areas of Darfur, ICRC engineers ensured that people had access to water, especially in remote villages, by maintaining existing wells, boreholes, hand pumps, generators and reservoirs, and repairing what was destroyed in the conflict. In towns such as Zalingei, Al Geneina and Kutum, work continued to improve the urban water network.

  • In Zalingei, layout of the extension to Hasha Issa camp has been completed for 20,000 displaced persons.

  • Food was distributed to 33,038 people in 44 different locations, in cooperation with the SRCS and after consultation with the community leaders. A total of 714 tonnes of sorghum, beans, salt and oil were supplied.

 Since the start of the crisis, the ICRC has:  

    

  • provided basic household items for 376,530 displaced people in 25 locations across Darfur.

  • delivered food aid to 107,450 people in 50 locations across Darfur.

  • upgraded and repaired infrastructure in four hospitals with a total capacity of 860 beds, created infrastructure for four primary health care units, and provided support in the form of drugs, surgical and other medical equipment; posted health teams in two of the hospitals.

  • launched a programme to provide basic health care for over 134,000 people through support for 16 permanent health facilities and four mobile clinics.

  • made arrangements for the daily delivery of an additional 1,800,000 litres of water, above and beyond previously existing resources, to over 200,000 people in 30 locations.

  • designed camp layouts (Abushok, Kassab and Hasha-Issa) for 120,000 displaced people and provided shelter materials to 80,000 people to help them settle in.

 Since the start of the crisis, the ICRC in Sudan has registered 113 children separated from their families and collected tracing requests for 1,751 persons related to Darfur, including 747 children  

 Preventive action and information  

    

  • In a session held under the trees, an ICRC delegate spoke to a group of 700 people –members of the population and weapons bearers – about the protection of civilians in conflict, underlining the neutrality and independence of the ICRC as an organization. In other villages, also in the Nyala region of Southern Darfur, and in the provincial capital itself, nearly fifty village community leaders were given the same humanitarian message..

 Cooperation with the Sudanese Red Crescent and other Movement partners  

  • In all areas of Darfur, volunteers from the SRCS assisted the ICRC in registering newly displaced persons, distributing food, and carrying out tracing work.

  • Other partners in the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are making an active contribution to the humanitarian operation in Darfur. The Australian, British, Danish, German, Saudi, Spanish and Swedish National Societies already have programmes on the ground.

  • A high-level delegation from the Irish Red Cross Society paid a visit to Darfur to evaluate how it can best contribute to Movement assistance efforts in this region.

 EASTERN CHAD  

    

 Humanitarian situation  

    

The situation for Darfuri refugees stranded along the Chadian border remains difficult. In the southern area of Adé, many refugees have moved to the camps of Goz Amer and Djabal whilst the resident population is facing a growing depletion of its resources. The seasonal rains have also made the area less accessible for humanitarian organizations present in the region.

In Adré, the largest town of central eastern Chad, the breakdown of the main water pump is posing serious problems to its 11,000 inhabitants. People have been forced to rely on the one remaining potable water tap, as well as untreated water from surrounding " wadis " — large water flashes that have abruptly developed as a result of the torrential rains.

 Humanitarian highlights  

    

ICRC delegates and volunteers of the Red Cross of Chad are processing family tracing requests and sending Red Cross messages from several refugee camps, including those of Goz Amer and Djabal. In order to facilitate the exchange of Red Cross messages with family members in neighboring Sudan, an ICRC mail exchange service has been set up between Abéché and Khartoum.

The ICRC is also closely monitoring the water and sanitation needs in the area and will soon carry out an assessment in the areas south of Adré.

 ICRC activities   

    

 Restoring family links  

    

  • 421 Red Cross civilian messages were collected;

  • 26 Red Cross messages of separated or unaccompanied children were collected;

  • 13 separated and unaccompanied children were registered in the family tracing data base;

  • 26 tracing requests from parents looking for their children were collected;

  • 138 subscriptions to the ICRC's family search data base system were recorded.

 For further information please contact:  

 Virginia De La Guradia, ICRC Khartoum, tel. ++249 9 121 377 64  

 for Chad: Yves Heller, ICRC Yaoundé , tel. ++237 222 58 59  

 Ian Piper, Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 20 63