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ICRC activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – July-September 2007

29-10-2007 Operational Update

An overview of the ICRC’s work throughout the DRC in the fields of assistance, protection, promotion of international humanitarian law and support for the National Society

 

Introduction 
 

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a neutral, independent organization. Its exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflict and internal violence, and to provide them with assistance. It directs and coordinates the activities of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement during conflicts. The organization also works to strengthen and promote international humanitarian law (IHL).

The ICRC has been in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (RDC) since 1978. It has a delegation in Kinshasa, sub-delegations in Goma, Bukavu and Lubumbashi, and offices in Kisangani, Uvira and Kalemie.

The ICRC’s work in the DRC includes restoring family links, protecting people deprived of their liberty and protecting civilians. Its delegates help vulnerable people, displaced persons and those returning to their homes following displacement. This includes distributing basic necessities, supporting medical facilities, improving access to drinking water and supporting agriculture and fish farming. The ICRC is also supporting relief work carried out by the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 
Protection 
 

 Restoring family links  

    

The ICRC continued its traditional work of restoring links bet ween family members who have lost contact as a result of conflict, other situations of violence, or their direct consequences. People who had no other means of restoring or maintaining links with their families were given the opportunity to use the Red Cross message network, which the ICRC runs with the help of the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In those areas where the ICRC is operating, the organization continued to identify unaccompanied children and former child soldiers, putting them back in touch with their families – and reuniting them where this was in the child’s best interests.

The ICRC:

  • collected 15,062 Red Cross messages and delivered 13,135;

  • reunited 128 unaccompanied children with their families, including 60 former child soldiers;

  • is currently handling the cases of 410 unaccompanied children, including 92 former child soldiers;

  • processed 202 tracing requests, of which 108 were successful;

  • is currently handling 476 tracing requests, having received 97 new requests this quarter.

 Visits to people deprived of their liberty  

    

The ICRC continued to visit people in permanent and temporary places of detention, mainly in Kinshasa and in the east of the country, to promote humane treatment and conditions of detention in keeping with Congolese law and minimum international standards.

Detainees who come under the ICRC's mandate and are considered particularly vulnerable are monitored throughout their entire time in custody. In particular, these include people arrested or detained in connection with an armed conflict or other situation of violence, or in for reasons of State security.

As in its other theatres of operations, the ICRC repeats its visits to detainees and holds private interviews with them, while maintaining a confidential and constructive dialogue with the detaining authorities.

The ICRC:

  • carried out 19 visits to 13 places of detention;

  • monitored individually all detainees who came within its mandate;

  • collected 378 Red Cross messages from detainees and distributed 362 to detainees, helping to restore contact between them and their families;

  • continued to distribute soap, basic medicine and food supplements to the most vulnerable detainees whenever needed, while constantly reminding the authorities of their duty to meet the needs of all detainees.

 Protection of the civilian population in areas affected by armed violence  

    

In the eastern provinces of the country, where civilians continued to suffer the effects of armed conflict and other situations of violence, the ICRC maintained its presence on the ground and its proximity to the population. The organization endeavoured to help them and to prevent attacks on their lives and dignity, by talking to arms bearers and by promoting compliance with humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles.

 
Assistance 
 

 Health  

    

The ICRC continued to provide support for health centres and hospitals, and for its limb-fitting, surgical, physiotherapy and rape-victim support programmes.

  • The ICRC supported four health centres in North Kivu, South Kivu and Katanga. Between them, these centres carried out:

  1. 7,305 curative consultations;

  2. 9,840 vaccinations.

  • The ICRC supported five hospitals in North and South Kivu. Between them, these hospitals:

  1. carried out 26,300 curative out-patient consultations;

  2. conducted 2,602 operations;

  3. admitted 6,817 in-patients requiring treatment in the area of internal medicine;

  4. treated 841 war-wounded.

  • 126 patients underwent medical and surgical treatment for osteomyelitis in Panzi hospital (South Kivu); 730 physiotherapy sessions were held, and the ICRC surgeon and physiotherapist are continuing to train nursing staff;

  • the Matchumbi health centre (North Kivu) and Bunyakiri general hospital (South Kivu) are currently undergoing renovation.

 Support for victims of sexual violence  

    

  • The ICRC is supporting 23 centres for victims of sexual violence in North and South Kivu; 207 women received support at these centres over the last quarter.

 The ICRC has been providing the following assistance on an occasional basis, in connection with the armed conflict in North and South Kivu:  

    

  • support for six health centres and three hospitals, enabling them to treat IDPs;

  • assistance for nine health facilities (health centres, reference health centres and hospitals), so that they can treat the wounded;

  • two ICRC surgeons to help Congolese doctors with the most serious cases;

  • a water supply for the operating theatre, maternity unit and laboratory at Katindo military hospital, Goma.

 Physical rehabilitation programme  

    

The ICRC renewed its service-provision contracts with five physical rehabilitation centres spread across the country: the Kalembelembe prosthetic-orthotic centre and the rehabilitation centre for the physically disabled, both in Kinshasa; the Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Kansele hospital in Mbuji Mayi; the Heri-Kwetu centre in Bukavu and the Shirika-La-Umoja centre in Goma. All these centres provide high-quality physical rehabilitation for civilian and military casualties of war.

Between them, these facilities:

  • treated 197 patients (including 37 women and 24 children);

  • fitted 151 new patients with artificial limbs;

  • fitted 95 new patients with orthoses;

  • distributed 317 crutches.

 Basic necessities and agricultural support for farmers  

    

Many families have lost everything in the conflict. They are struggling to survive and to rejoin society and the economy. The ICRC therefore assisted several groups by running agricultural and fisheries projects in the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Katanga.

  • 5,183 families (totalling 25,915 individuals) in Kalembe and Mugunga (North Kivu) and in Walungu, Kitembo and Nyabibwe (South Kivu) received such essential items as blankets, clothing, cooking utensils, soap, buckets and hoes.

  • 800 returnee families in Moba (Katanga) each received a set of tools with which to prepare the fields for planting – they will be receiving seed in November.

  • 350 farming families belonging to 10 associations in Bunyakiri (South Kivu) received manioc cuttings and ploughing implements.

  • 70 farming families belonging to two associations in Minova (South Kivu) received manioc cuttings, seed and ploughing implements; this was linked with efforts to deal with five hectares of banana trees that were withering due to the effects of a virus.

  • 455 families belonging to 13 fisheries associations in Mitwaba (Katanga) and Fizi (South Kivu) received materials for renovating their fishponds, together with training in fish farming.

 Facilitating access to water  

    

The ICRC is working with specialized local bodies to improve access to clean drinking water.

Projects currently under way:

 In North Kivu, the ICRC:  

    

  • repaired the Pinga water-supply system (13,000 beneficiaries);

  • built a new pumping station in Keshero that will supply water for Ndosho and Katindo (100,000 beneficiaries);

  • repaired the water-supply system in Ndjiapanda, Lubero (25,000 beneficiaries);

  • repaired a water-supply system in Biambwe, between Butembo and Manguredjipa (12,000 beneficiaries);

  • upgraded the Sake water-supply system (30,000 beneficiaries).

 In South Kivu, the ICRC:  

    

  • opened the Langala water-supply system, which covers five villages (25,000 beneficiaries);

  • installed a water-supply system at Burinyi, Mwenga territory (6,200 beneficiaries);

  • repaired 23 wells in the Ruzizi plain (12,000 beneficiaries).

  • extended the Kabimba water-supply system, working with the national rural water service ( Service national de l’hydraulique rural , SNHR) (10,000 beneficiaries).

 In Katanga, the ICRC:  

    

  • repaired the Kongolo water-production unit (56,500 beneficiaries);

  • built 10 wells around Lake Upemba (20,000 beneficiaries in five villages);

  • drilled 14 boreholes in Kabalo territory and fitted them with handpumps, working with the Regideso (Congolese water board) (27,000 beneficiaries);

  • installed a new water-supply system at Watupembe, northern Mitwaba (2,500 beneficiaries).

 
Promoting international humanitarian law 
 

The ICRC continued to promote basic knowledge of international humanitarian law (IHL) among arms bearers, the authorities and the general public.

 National and international authorities  

    

  • The ICRC held two information sessions for 64 members of the Katanga provincial assembly.

 National Army  

The following persons attended IHL awareness-raising sessions:

  • 351 officers from operational units and military regions;

  • 195 officers and NCOs of the Garde républicaine based in Lubumbashi;

  • 100 trainees (officers and NCOs) from the Banana naval school;

  • 107 staff officers undergoing training at the higher military college group ( Groupement des écoles supérieures militaires , GESM).

 Forces of the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC)  

    

  • 161 officers, NCOs and men of the Beninese battalion based in Kalemie attended IHL awareness events.

 National police and security forces  

    

  • Three sessions on humanitarian principles and human rights in Kalemie, Kisangani and Masisi were attended by 110 members of the national police.

 Civil society  

The ICRC:

  • ran two information sessions for 148 members of civil society in Goma, Baraza la Wazee (North Kivu) and for members of civil society and local NGOs in Kisangani;

  • held one awareness event for 29 journalists in Kisangani;

  • organized two information sessions for 79 CRRDC volunteers in Kalemie and Masisi;

  • issued four press releases to local and international media.

 
Cooperation with the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (CRRDC) 
 

During the last quarter, the ICRC provided financial support and technical assistance in the following areas:

 Restoring family links  

    

  • 130 volunteers took part in seven refresher courses in five provinces.

 Emergency preparedness and response  

The ICRC:

  • financed 11 tours of inspection by heads of provincial disaster management divisions;

  • trained 120 casualty evacuation team leaders in three provinces (North Kivu, South Kivu and Équateur);

  • ran initial training or refresher courses for 43 community-based first-aid trainers in five provinces (North and South Kivu, East and West Kasaï and Équateur);

  • supplied 70 first aid kits.

 Dissemination/communication  

    

  • 280 CRRDC dissemination officers in seven provinces took part in courses to become trainers;

  • 15 dissemination sessions for outside participants took place, covering all 11 provinces.

 Assistance to those most in need  

    

  • The ICRC financed six CRRDC micro-projects.

 Structural support  

The ICRC:

  • provided organizational support for a meeting of the CRRDC central committee;

  • produced 5,000 copies of the CRRDC’s legal documents;

  • supported training for 30 managers from the general secretariat and the supervisory board of the CRRDC, covering the functioning of the CRRDC and leadership;

  • provided three motorbikes for the provincial committees of Bandundu, Maniema and Équateur.

 ICRC delegation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo  

 Tel. +243 81 700 60 60/61 or +243 099 831 32 82  

 Fax: + 871 762 871 026  

 E-mail: kinshasa.kin@icrc.org