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Central African Republic: ICRC activities from June to October 2008

31-10-2008 Operational Update

An overview of the ICRC's humanitarian activities in Central African Republic from June to October 2008

Despite constraints imposed by the state of the roads and a long rainy season, the ICRC continued to monitor developments in the humanitarian situation in order to tailor its response to the population's protection and assistance requirements.

In the fields of economic security and health, the ICRC has concentrated on areas that other humanitarian agencies are not covering. It renovated the health post of Am Dafok, a village 65 km from Birao (in the extreme north-east of the country on the border with Sudan), which had less than optimum healthcare facilities. Frequent power cuts have also been troubling the health sector, and these have hampered the functioning of specialized medical establishments such as the community hospital in Bangui.

By the end of October 2008, almost 65,000 displaced persons in the regions of Paoua, Kaga-Bandoro and Birao had received practical assistance and had received essential items (tarpaulins, a set of cooking utensils, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, etc.). At the same time, the ICRC took steps to improve access to drinking water. The organization renovated traditional wells, built new wells, drilled boreholes, protected and upgraded natural springs and provided instruction in hygiene.

 
Protection 
 

The delegation focuses on securing respect for the physical safety of the civilian population and on ensuring that people who are arrested on grounds related to the conflict are treated humanely. When they visit villages, ICRC delegates ask if any problems have arisen owing to breaches of international humanitarian law by any armed forces and groups whom civilians may happen to encounter. If this is the case, they inform their contacts, draw their attention to the applicable legal rules and ask them to take measures to prevent any reoccurrences.

 Persons deprived of their freedom  

The ICRC regularly visits persons deprived of their freedom in the places of their detention in Bangui and in the provinces.

The ICRC:

  • made 52 visits and saw 584 detainees, 71 of whom the organization is individually monitoring for protective purposes, in 22 places of detention (prisons, police stations, police posts and gendarmerie jails);

  • visited 2 people whom the armed opposition are holding in two places of detention;

  • distributed 120 Red Cross messages: 24 to detainees and 96 to civilians;

  • collected 79 Red Cross messages: 8 from detainees and 71 from civilians.

 
Assistance 
 

 Economic security  

People in areas affected by the fighting live mainly from agriculture, but the lack of security restricts their access to essential items and seed. The ICRC has therefore distributed basic household items, tools, agricultural supplies, food and material for rebuilding destroyed or damaged homes.

The ICRC:

  • supplied blankets, tarpaulins, cooking utensils, cloth for clothing, soap and mosquito nets to 7,380 households (31,504 people) in Ng éréndomo (Birao), Mbéréguili, Kossé, Bilakaré (Paoua) and Sido (Kaga-Bandoro);

  • distributed 48 tonnes of cereals, 20 tonnes of seed, 4,000 litres of oil and 12,003 hoes to 7,212 households (32,808 people);

  • repaired and distributed 54 ploughs.

 Health  

The ICRC:

  • delivered a 165 kWh generator (with a maintenance kit) and surgical supplies (medicines and disposables) to the community hospital in Bangui and medicines and other medical supplies to the town's paediatric centre;

  • provided the hospitals at Bossangoa and Sibut and a health centre at Bossembélé with dressings;

  • renovated the health post at Am Dafok, thus giving some 5,000 people (most of them women and children) access to good-quality primary health care in the form of treatment and preventive services;

  • organized monthly further training sessions for health personnel at Am Dafok.

 Water and sanitation  

The organization has concentrated on providing access to drinking water and improving sanitation for communities affected by the conflict and for other vulnerable persons.

The ICRC:

  • visited more than 167 villages in the north of the country where 41 volunteers from the Central African Red Cross Society, whom the ICRC has trained in community participation techniques, have been engaging in hygiene-promotion activities;

  • built 22 latrine and shower blocks and 323 individual latrines in schools and health centres;

  • conducted hygiene-promotion activities in the prefecture of Vakaga and trained Central African Red Cross Society technicians from the prefecture in how to turn traditional wells in to tube wells. Five wells are undergoing such conversion by a team that the ICRC trained on the spot.

  • protected three natural springs in the prefectures of Nana Grébizi, Ouham and Ouham-Pendé and turned five traditional wells into tube wells in the town of Kaga-Bandoro and in the vicinity of Bossangoa;

  • sunk new boreholes equipped with manual pumps in six villages and started drilling a further six boreholes by the end of June 2008.

A total of 27,500 people benefited from these activities.

 
Promoting international humanitarian law and the work of the ICRC and the Central African Red Cross Society 
 

The delegation continued to back up its protection and assistance activities by strengthening its operational communication and by endeavouring above all to promote knowledge of international humanitarian law and the ICRC's modus operandi among arms bearers in conflict zones.

The ICRC:

  • organized 25 events in the north of the country to familiarize 485 arms bearers from the armed forces, the Mission for the Consolidation of Peace and armed opposition groups with international humanitarian law and the ICRC's action;

  • distributed almost 2,000 copies of information bulletins about the activities of the ICRC and the Central African Red Cross Society, video films and brochures about humanitarian law;

  • ran a conference in Bangui on customary law for 160 members of the legal profession (judges, lawyers, law professors, researchers and students);

  • held an information meeting with the " Peace and Security " group of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CAEMC).

 
Cooperation with the Central African Red Cross Society 
 

The ICRC continued to support the Central African Red Cross Society in its efforts to assist people in need.

The ICRC:

  • supported two training sessions for first-aid instructors, which were attended by volunteers from 23 local branches in Ouham, Ouham-Pendé, Nana-Grébizi et Vakaga, and provided 130 dossards et 560 sets of first-aid supplies to the National Society;

  • supplied the headquarters of the Central African Red Cross Society in Bangui with a 30 kWh generator to facilitate its work;

  • conducted a joint assessment with the National Society of the functioning of first-aid teams and the management of equipment in Bangui's borough committees;

  • distributed various publications about the emblems, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, international humanitarian law and 1,000 copies of The Story of an Idea and 500 copies of The Battle of the Villages .