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ICRC activities in Congo-Brazzaville (October-December 2005)

01-10-2005 Operational Update

Overview of ICRC field activities: visits to persons deprived of their freedom, restoring family links, agricultural and fishery projects, water and sanitation, health, promotion of international humanitarian law and support for the Congolese Red Cross.

 PROTECTION  

    

 Visits to persons deprived of their freedom  

As part of its work in behalf of persons detained in connection with political tensions, the ICRC, on the basis of an agreement concluded with the government in 1999, visits places of detention run by the Ministries of Security and Police, Justice and Defence. The purpose of these visits is to promote respect for human life and dignity and, if need be, improve the conditions of detention.

In the last quarter of 2005, the ICRC:

  • Conducted 12 visits to six places of detention in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire and submitted its findings and recommendations to the relevant authorities.

  • Continued to rehabilitate 11 police stations in Brazzaville with a view to improving living conditions in places of temporary detention. In the Moungali district police station, the installation of two toilets and a number of tapstands and air vents was completed. A septic tank was also rehabilitated and a cesspool installed in the central police station. Rehabilitation work continued in Mfilou (rainwater catchment system), Talangai (opening of air vents in the cells) and Bacongo (construction of ventilated latrines).

  • Held a round table on hygiene for the officers in charge of temporary places of detention in Brazzaville (7 October).

 Restoring family links  

As part of its work to restore family links, the ICRC offers people separated from their families by armed conflict or the consequences thereof the opportunity to write Red Cross messages to their relatives. The content of these messages is strictly limited to family news. The ICRC also strives to reunite families – mainly for the benefit of children, their most vulnerable members.

In the last quarter of 2005:

  • 337 Red Cross messages were collected.

  • 446 Red Cross messages were distributed.

  • Two unaccompanied children were reunited with their families.

 ASSISTANCE  

The ICRC's assistance operations focus almost exclusively on the Pool department, which was the most severely affected by the latest conflict. To facilitate the return of civilians who fled the Pool, the ICRC provides aid of various kinds, one of its priorities being to ensure access to clean water and basic health care. The ICRC also provides help for farmer groups, thereby supporting efforts to rebuild the country's economy.

 Cassava project  

    

For more than 10 years the mosaic cassava disease, which affects a staple food item, has steadily reduced the number of healthy cuttings available during the planting season, leading to a considerable drop in production. The ICRC has been helping groups of cassava growers in the Kinkala, Mindouli, Kindamba, Vinza, Kimba and Le kana districts of the Pool to reverse this trend.

In the last quarter of 2005:

  • 95 farmer groups received more than 250,000 apparently healthy cuttings from five varieties of cassava plant, along with farming tools (machetes, hoes) and tarpaulins for drying cassava chips and other agricultural products. This operation was carried out jointly with officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock (MAFL) in the Kinkala, Mindouli and Lekana districts, where the ICRC, in partnership with the MAFL, also began conducting adaptability and disease-tolerance tests on 12 different varieties of cassava.

    

 Water, sanitation and habitat  

 Integrated health centres  

  • Building work on a latrine/shower block, waste pits and rainwater catchment systems was completed in the Kinkakassa and Kimba health centres, which serve more than 6,500 people.

 Access to clean water in rural areas  

  • Work to protect and develop water sources was completed in the villages of Voula and Moulouangou.
    Several well-building projects were completed and others were launched in Dzokotro, Moutséné, Impouo, Mihété, Louo Mingali, Kindamba town and Loutété for a total of 3,000 users.
    Repairs were made to six hand pumps used by 2,000 people in Kinkala, Kindamba town, Missafou, Boko and Louingui.

 Cooperation with the national water board (SNE)  

  • The Mossendjo drinking-water treatment plant was officially inaugurated on 21 October after being rehabilitated by the ICRC. The plant produces water for 15,000 people. 

 Cooperation with the water resources agency (DGH)  

  • Spare parts were given to the DGH for hand pumps in the north of the country.
    The ICRC and the DGH jointly visited ICRC water and sanitation projects in the Pool.

 Training  

  • In Kinshasa, an expert from the International Office for Water provided training for 20 SNE and REGIDESO (national water board of Congo-Kinshasa) staff working in plants rehabilitated by the ICRC in both countries. 

    

 Hygiene-awareness programme  

  • Twelve hygiene- and sanitation-awareness sessions were held in Kinkala town, Moulouangou, Madzia, Mindouli, Kindamba town and Kimba town.
    Five water-management committees were set up in Louo Mingali, Dzokotro, Moutséné, Impouo and Mihété.

    

 Health

 Integrated health centres  

  • The Kingouala health centre was handed over to the authorities after being completely rehabilitated and equipped by the ICRC. The centre covers the medical needs of nearly 4,000 people.
    The ICRC continued to support 10 health centres in the Pool, supplying them with drugs and other items and training their staff. The centres cover the needs of an estimated 65,000 people and provide medical care for around 5,000 people a month.

 Expanded programme on immunization  

  • The ICRC continued to provide logistical support for the teams of the health ministry's expanded programme on immunization in the Pool.

     
     

 PREVENTION  

    

ICRC prevention work consists in spreading knowledge of international humanitarian law and humanitarian rules intended to limit the effects of armed violence. The ICRC maintains a dialogue with all parties, especially bearers of weapons, so as to secure access to victims of conflict or internal strife. It also endeavours to raise awareness of the law among political decision makers, journalists, academics and students.

 Political authorities  

  • 223 public servants, including sub-prefecture officials and the heads of Kinkala, Mindouli, Kindamba and Mayama districts, attended information sessions on the ICRC and humanitarian law.

  • 61 senators attended a seminar held to raise their awareness of the responsibility they had as legislators to ensure that th e Republic of the Congo abided by the international treaties it had ratified and incorporated their provisions into national law.

 Congolese armed forces  

As part of its awareness-raising activities, the ICRC organized 14 information sessions on humanitarian law for 669 bearers of weapons (102 officers, 278 sub-officers and 289 enlisted men) from:

- the republican guard (GR)

- the general directorate for presidential security (DGSP)

- the central directorate for military intelligence (DCRM)

- the 402nd infantry battalion in Mindouli

- the signal battalion in Brazzaville

- the BAP in Pointe-Noire

- infantry trainees in Loutété

- officers of the No. 1 military defence zone in Pointe-Noire

 Police and gendarmerie  

  • Two awareness-raising courses on human rights and the humanitarian principles applicable in law-enforcement operations were held for 56 high-ranking officers (27 from the police and 29 from the gendarmerie) by the ICRC's Pretoria-based regional delegate for police and security forces.

  • 43 members of the special police forces (GASP) were acquainted with the ICRC's activities and given some basic instruction in human rights and the humanitarian principles applicable in law-enforcement operations.

 Other bearers of weapons  

  • Seven awareness-raising sessions were held for 117 former members of the Ninja militia – close to the National Resistance Council – in the Pool's Kindamba and Vinza districts. The sessions were conducted in Lari, t he most commonly spoken language in the Pool.

 General public and the media  

  • A documentary on ICRC activities in Congo-Brazzaville was shot and later broadcast on the country's two main television channels, as well as being used in the ICRC's awareness-raising programmes. A radio spot was also made and later broadcast on the national radio station.

 Academic circles and schools  

  • The ICRC signed an agreement with the Ministry of Education and the Haut-Commissariat à l'Instruction Civique et à l'Education Morale on the introduction of its Exploring Humanitarian Law (EHL) programme into the high-school curricula. A working group was established to adapt the EHL teaching guide and courses to the Congolese context.

  • A strip cartoon entitled La Bataille des villages is being used until the EHL programme is set up. In December 2005, more than 600 pupils in three high schools were acquainted with humanitarian principles by this means.

    

    

 COOPERATION WITH THE CONGOLESE RED CROSS (CRC)  

    

  • The CRC received support for the broadcast of a programme entitled " Tout savoir sur la Croix-Rouge congolaise " on Radio Congo.

  • 25 peer educators were trained in Kindamba.

  • The CRC received support for its activities to mark World AIDS Day in Pointe-Noire.