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Sierra Leone: ICRC activities June to October 2006

31-10-2006 Operational Update

As the situation in Sierra Leone becomes more stable, the ICRC has gradually been shifting its focus away from emergency humanitarian assistance to its other core areas of expertise.

Throughout 2006, the ICRC has continued to carry out activities such as the promotion of international humanitarian law (IHL), the tracing of families separated by conflicts in the sub-region, restoring family links, carrying out visits to places of detention, supporting the reform programme of the penitentiary administration and strengthening the capacity of the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society.

In addition to ICRC's country-wide operations, the Red Cross Movement maintains a strong and dedicated presence throughout the country, primarily through the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society and its 13 branches, but also through the International Federation and its many international partner Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

 Promotion of International Humanitarian Law (IHL)  

In the period under review, the ICRC carried out information sessions/workshops for weapons bearers on the ICRC and IHL. Participants included new recruits to the Office of National Security, members of each of the 14 battalions of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, members of the International Military and Training Team, high-ranking officers of the Sierra Leone Police and Operational Support Division, new recruits to the Sierra Leone police force and members of the UN Mission contingent based in Freetown.

The ICRC also conducted a week-long intensive Training of Trainers course for 26 RS LAF officers to enable them to conduct IHL training in their respective brigades, and test-launched the first edition of an RSLAF manual for IHL trainers in all brigades (to be reviewed at the end of 2006).

The ICRC launched the " Code of Conduct for the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces " and provided a copy to each soldier;

It facilitated an orientation and planning workshop with the Executive Management Board of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) for a future Training of Trainers course (to take place in January 2007) and provided a week-long awareness-raising course on International Human Rights and humanitarian principles for the Local Unit Commanders of the SLP drawn from across the country;

The ICRC also carried out information sessions/workshops on the ICRC and IHL to Sierra Leonean civil society, including students and lecturers of seven colleges in Sierra Leone, members of the Sierra Leone Labour Congress, Bike Riders'Associations in Kenema, Bo and Kailahun, members and volunteers of the Sierra Leone Scout Movement and Scout representatives of the sub-region and journalists.

The second national Moot Court Competition on IHL at the Special Court for Sierra Leone was organized. There was also a series of training sessions for the winning team representing the country at the 6th pan-African moot court competition in IHL held in Arusha.

 Tracing/family links  

In the period under review, the ICRC reduced the number of children and vulnerable adults looking for their families to just 127.

Another 26 children were reunited with their families in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea;

A total of almost 2,200 Red Cross Messages were collected and distributed.

    

 Detention/protection  

The ICRC carried out 17 visits to prisons, including 3 visits to places of detention for juveniles and 4 joint technical visits to District Prisons with the Technical Section of the Prison Administration;

The organization submitted an in-depth assessment on the penitentiary system in Sierra Leone to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and major stakeholders involved in detention activities, and organized thematic discussions on water and habitat in prisons, and on medical care and medical referrals with representatives of the Prison Administration and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation respectively in order to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the two ministries;

A study on the Missing and the situation/needs of the families of missing persons in Sierra Leone was finalized. This study will shape programmes for 2007.

    

 Support to the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society (SLRCS)  

The ICRC conducted two capacity-building workshops on tracing and dissemination for staff and volunteers of the SLRCS working in the areas of tracing and promotion of IHL. It also donated five motor bikes and five bicycles to facilitate their work in the field.

It carried out financial training in the 13 branches of the SLRCS in the 12 districts of Sierra Leone and conducted a capacity assessment of the SLRCS tracing department;

A distribution of blankets, kitchen sets, plastic buckets and bales of used clothes was conducted to 938 vulnerable street children in Freetown;

A total of 300 children graduated from the ICRC-sponsored Child Advocac y and Rehabilitation centre (CAR) in Kailahun and Kabala.

An HIV/AIDS awareness raising session was conducted for ICRC staff and HIV/AIDS " Peer Educators " were elected.