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Activities of the ICRC regional delegation in Côte d'Ivoire in 2005

31-12-2005 Operational Update

 Côte d'Ivoire in 2005  

The country has remained divided in two since the crisis that broke out on 19 September 2002. The south is controlled by the government, the north by the armed opposition. A demilitarized zone, the so-called " confidence zone " , separates the two areas.
 
The agreement on the cessation of hostilities signed in Pretoria on 6 April 2005 has not been enough to break the deadlock. The disarmament process is at a standstill and the independent electoral commission has yet to start its work.
 
Disagreements between the main political players prevented the holding of presidential and legislative elections within the constitutional deadline (end October 2005). On 21 October 2005, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1633 with a view to putting an end to the crisis by the following means:
 

  • extending the mandate of the head of State for a period not exceeding 12 months;

  • appointing a new prime minister acceptable to all the parties signatory to the Linas-Marcoussis agreement;

  • holding elections no later than 31 October 2006.

 Togo in 2005  
 

The results of the presidential elections held after the death of president Gnassingbe Eyadema in February 2005 set off violent clashes in the capital and other parts of the country. Since a new government was formed, various steps have been taken to reduce tensions. Dialogue has star ted up again and it should lead to the holding of legislative elections acceptable to all the political players involved.

 Overview of activities in 2005  
 

Complex security conditions in several regions, both in the north and in the south of the country, hindered people's freedom of movement, especially in rural areas, affecting access to medical care in particular. The few medical facilities that continued to function were only able to do so thanks to the support of external donors or humanitarian organizations. Meanwhile, agricultural production decreased and it became more and more difficult to supply urban areas with drinking water.
 
The ICRC was able to work throughout the national territory. To ensure faster delivery of aid, the delegation consolidated its arrangements for responding to the needs of people affected by isolated situations of violence. Likewise, it strengthened its presence in some of the most sensitive parts of the country, in particular the " confidence zone. "
 
On the basis of the needs assessments carried out by its teams in the field, the ICRC used existing facilities to provide the population with water and medicine. It also distributed food and essential items.
 
Following outbreaks of violence that mainly affected civilians, the delegation, in addition to its planned activities, arranged for the wounded to be taken to hospitals, had shelters built and distributed aid in cooperation with Ivorian Red Cross volunteers.
 
A large number of dissemination sessions were held for all bearers of weapons (the Ivorian armed forces, self-defence groups, the Forces Nouvelles armed forces, etc.) and for the Young Patriots, enabling the ICRC to spread knowledge of its mandate and activities.
 
National Society teams from France, Iran, the Netherlands, Iran and other countries helped strengthen the humanitarian work of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies maintained a presence in Abidjan until September 2005.
 
In Togo, the ICRC focused on responding to the consequences of the violence that riddled the electoral process. Many of the wounded were assisted by Togolese Red Cross first-aid workers with the ICRC's support. The situation of displaced persons was assessed and an assistance programme was set up for them in early June.
 
Information sessions on international humanitarian law were held for youth leaders and senior officers of the Togolese armed forces so as to raise their awareness of humanitarian principles and their duty to facilitate the activities of the ICRC and the Togolese Red Cross in times of crisis.
 
In the other countries covered by the Abidjan regional delegation (Benin, Burkina Faso and Ghana), the ICRC continued its ongoing programmes.
 

 Operational highlights in 2005  

 
Protection 
 

 Côte d'Ivoire  

  • ICRC delegates carried out 233 visits in 87 places of detention throughout the country (prisons, military camps, police stations and temporary holding places) with a view to monitoring the situation of several hundred people deprived of their freedom.

  • Three-month-long therapeutic feeding programmes were carried out in six places of detention.

  • 25 children (11 Liberians and 14 Ivorians) separated from their parents as a result of the conflicts in their countr ies were reunited with their families.

  • ICRC teams in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana continued to search for the parents of 185 Liberian children. The organization also continued to monitor the cases of 164 Ivorian children living in Ghana, Guinea and Liberia.

  • Around 6,800 Red Cross messages were collected and more than 5,800 were distributed in the five countries covered by the regional delegation (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo).

 Togo  

  • Steps were taken with a view to concluding an agreement with Togo on the ICRC's humanitarian activities for people deprived of their freedom.

 
Assistance 
 

 Côte d'Ivoire  

  • Some 1,5 million people in the north and west of the country had access to drinking water after the ICRC shipped 957 tonnes of chemicals to 70 water-treatment plants. More than 16,5 million cubic metres of water were treated with these chemicals.

  • In Korhogo, three temporary plants were set up for the treatment, storage and distribution of 29 million litres of water serving as survival rations for 100,000 people during the drought, which lasted more than three months.

  • Access to primary health care was ensured in the north of the country thanks to the delivery of medicines and surgical supplies from the Public Health Pharmacy in Abidjan to seven public hospitals (Korhogo, Ferféssédougou, Katiola, Odiénné, Seguéla, Touba and Dabakala). The European Union guaranteed the funding of the operation.

  • 86 health centres in the north of the country functioned all year long without running out of medicine, including during the period of transition from IC RC support to UNICEF/EU support.

  • As part of an ongoing project in western Côte d'Ivoire, the ICRC rehabilitated and equipped 26 Ivorian Red Cross health posts as well as three health-promotion centres. Each health post was supplied with a stock of medicines so that the 56 community health-care workers trained by the ICRC's medical staff could administer first aid and treat common illnesses.

  • The country's 21 head surgeons attended a two-day war-surgery seminar where they learned how to manage large-scale influxes of war-wounded patients, were taught advanced procedures for treating the war-wounded and were able to benefit from the ICRC's experience in war surgery.

  • On the basis of the needs assessments carried out by ICRC delegates, over 16,000 people affected by the Ivorian crisis received the following aid:

- essential supplies (44,500 bars of soap, 12,200 mats, 11,200 clothing items, 3,000 buckets, 2,800 kitchen sets, 500 tarpaulins, 270 hoes and 225 shovels)

- food (9,000 kg of rice, 3,000 kg of beans, 1,500 litres of oil and 112 kg of salt).

  • In the Man and Bouaké areas, 14 organizations caring for vulnerable people (disabled persons, orphans, the mentally ill) received monthly aid from the ICRC, mainly in the form of food (160 tonnes of rice, 55 tonnes of beans, 27 tonnes of oil, 2 tonnes of salt, 1 tonne of maize and soy flour enriched with vitamins and minerals, 9,250 kg of soap). Around 2,500 people received a half-ration of food each month.

  • In response to the vital needs of those displaced by the violence that broke out around Duekoué in May 2005:

- The Catholic mission in Duékoué received basic medicine for the treatment of 6,000 people (mainly women and children).

- The ICRC built 1,600 square metres of emergency shelter for over 3,000 displaced persons in the compound of the Catholic mission in Duékoué. It also gave the mission enough emergency aid (clothing, mats, kitchen utensils and hygiene articles) to meet the needs of 500 families.

- With ICRC support, Ivorian Red Cross volunteers administered first aid to 200 wounded people, evacuated them and provided hospitals with staff support. Three first-aid kits for 100 wounded people each were given to the Duékoué and Daloa hospitals.

 Togo  

Following the violence that broke out during the 2005 elections,

  • The ICRC gave the Tokoin teaching hospital in Lomé a hospital surgical kit for 100 war-wounded patients. It also supplied the Togolese Red Cross and various local facilities with dressing materials for 1,000 wounded. Over 1,200 Togolese Red Cross volunteers and first-aiders evacuated 900 wounded from 30 locations, including the capital.

  • The Togolese Red Cross Cataluna centre received medical supplies, including 30 stretchers, nine first-aid kits and 15 boxes of medical products.

  • 800 family kits (clothing, mats, kitchen utensils and hygiene articles) were distributed to over 860 displaced families (4,305 people) in 45 locations (mainly in the Plateaux and Maritime regions).

 
Dissemination 
 

 Côte d'Ivoire  

  • 110 dissemination sessions were held to raise awareness of international humanitarian law and the ICRC's mandate, activities and working procedures. The 10,000 people who attended these sessions included government troops, Forces Nouvel les fighters, UNOCI officers, militia members and " dozos. " Information sessions were also held for leaders of the Young Patriots, members of civil society such as religious and traditional authorities, civilians, children who do not go to school and NGOs.

  • The ICRC held a symposium on the protection of the red cross emblem and an information day at the Ivorian parliament to promote implementation of international humanitarian law. It also led a seminar on humanitarian law and the protection of war victims for 80 prefects.

  • In cooperation with the general staff of the Ivorian armed forces, the ICRC officially handed over the Ivorian version of the " Soldier's Handbook. " The handbook, prepared by a general staff working group, sums of the basic rules of humanitarian law. It will be used to incorporate the law into military instruction and training.

  • Sixty newspaper, radio and TV journalists attended two press workshops held in the north and south of the country.

  • Extensive use was made of local media to publicize the ICRC's humanitarian concerns and its response to the problems of people affected by the crisis and explain how humanitarian law applied to the current situation. Three radio spots with a special emphasis on the principles of neutrality, independence and impartiality were broadcast over 300 times on local and national networks.

  • Technical support was given to the ministry of national education to help it launch the Exploring Humanitarian Law programme and incorporate it into teaching programmes. As part of this project, aimed at familiarizing schoolchildren (grades 6-9) with humanitarian principles and values, around 100 teacher trainers and 300 teachers attended training workshops held by the ICRC.

 Burkina Faso  

  • During a two-day dissemination drive, over 100 law students and 80 students training to be diplomats and magistrates at the Ecole Nationale d'Administration were informed about international humanitarian law and Red Cross principles and activities.

  • 27 officers and NCOs from the main military academies and instruction centres attended a train-the-trainers workshop on international humanitarian law held by the ICRC in Ouagadougou.

 Togo  

  • Two dissemination sessions were held for 1,200 recruits of the Togolese armed forces. The sessions focussed on the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the humanitarian principles that must govern the conduct of recruits in the operations they take part in, with a special emphasis on the neutrality of the red cross emblem and the respect that must be shown for it.

  • At the peak of the crisis, the ICRC launched a publicity/press campaign to raise awareness of the its mission and principles of action. It also held an information day on ICRC activities and humanitarian law for the chief editors of 20 media outlets.

 
Cooperation 
 

 Côte d'Ivoire  

  • During five health-education campaigns held in Marcory, Koumassi, Boundiali, San Pédro and Danané, over 100 volunteers took part in activities aimed at spreading knowledge of Red Cross principles and ideals. The activities included free consultations, the clearing of gutters, home visits to promote hygiene awareness and the updating of immunization records.

  • Emergency measures were taken ahead of the presidential elections on 30 October. Means of transport and communication were pre-positioned in strategic locations and local Re d Cross committees received enough first-aid materials to treat 600 wounded.

  • During various workshops, 120 people were trained as first-aid workers, 66 as relief officers and brigade heads, 25 as dissemination officers, 20 as National Society leaders and managers, 20 as local radio presenters, 14 as radio operators and 10 as leaders of EHL (Exploring Humanitarian Law) clubs.

 Togo  

  • The ICRC provided the Togolese Red Cross with special help in drawing up and supervising the contingency plan implemented during the socio-political events that took place in the country at the beginning of the year.

  • During various workshops, 45 people were trained as relief volunteers in situations of armed conflict or violence, 25 as emergency-relief trainers, 14 as tracing / family reunification officers, 10 as radio operators and six as dissemination officers.

  • Twenty awareness days were held during which over 660 Burkinabé and Togolese Red Cross volunteers were informed about the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

  • Nine public information sessions were held, each attended by around 60 people (officials, local inhabitants and former members of the Burkinabé Red Cross).

  • Three information days on the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement were held for 38 officials of the Togolese Red Cross.