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Sudan: emergency aid for Abyei and Omdurman

05-06-2008 Operational Update

Latest report on ICRC activities in the field

In mid-May the ICRC's emergency operations focused on Khartoum and Abyei, two cities hit by heavy fighting. The ICRC sent four teams, including a field surgical team, to the Abyei region, distributed medical kits to the Almujlad hospital and provided assistance for the displaced from Abyei. Cooperation with the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) was extended to the Abyei region.

When clashes broke out in Khartoum's twin city, Omdurman, on 10 May, the ICRC delivered war-wounded kits to a number of hospitals in the area. Together with the SRCS, it provided other urgently needed medical supplies as well. It also helped the SRCS, which had mobilized 250 volunteers, to evacuate the wounded and remove the dead.

During the crisis in Omdurman, the ICRC monitored respect for international humanitarian law and maintained a dialogue with all the parties to the conflict. It agreed to a request by the Sudanese government to advise it on how to deal with 90 minors captured during the fighting. ICRC delegates began visiting the detained minors this week. The ICRC is sparing no effort to restore links between them and their families as quickly as possible.

  Clashes in Abyei  

When intermittent clashes between government forces from the north and the Sudanese People's Liberation Army from the south escalated in mid-May in the Abyei region, which straddles the states of Bahr Alghazal and South Kordufan, thousand s of people were displaced and an unknown number were wounded or killed.

" The medical situation seems to be under control in Almujlad, north of Abyei, where the health services are coping with several thousand internally displaced persons, " said Dr Gabriel Mufuta, head of the ICRC's primary-health-care activities in Sudan, who visited the area. " However, most of the displaced headed south of the city, overwhelming an already strained health-care system in that area. "

The ICRC, together with the SRCS, sent three teams to the southern and northern parts of the region to assess the situation of 30,000 to 50,000 displaced people who had fled the city. In addition, a field surgical team was deployed in Almujlad, north of Abyei, where it operated on two severely wounded people.

The ICRC distributed food rations and essential household items (plastic sheeting, blankets, kitchen sets, jerrycans and soap) to over 2,000 displaced people in Almujlad on 28 May. Working with SRCS volunteers, it also handed out 1,450 kits containing essential household items to 9,000 displaced people in Malual Aleu, south of Abyei.

ICRC engineers strove to repair hand pumps so that residents and displaced people would have access to clean water, and the International Federation provided the ICRC with an emergency water-supply unit to meet the needs of up to 10,000 people.

In early May the ICRC pre-positioned 250 kits of essential household items, enough for 1,500 people, in SRCS warehouses in Kadugli, north-west of Abyei, to assist people displaced by a tribal clash in Kharasana, north-east of Abyei. At least 89 displaced families, who could not find shelter in the Kadugli area, received food and essential household items from the ICRC.

  Needs in Omdurman and Khartoum  

Responding to needs arising from the rebel attack on O mdurman on 10 May, the ICRC provided the following aid to four hospitals there and in Khartoum:

  • war-wounded kits to treat at least 250 people;

  • five dressing kits, including IV fluids, analgesics, antibiotics, splints, urine bags, catheters and chest tubes;

  • renewable surgical supplies, such as IV fluids, anaesthetic drugs, collars, needles, syringes and surgical instruments;

  • stretchers, first-aid kits, aprons, body bags, fuel, and four vehicles with their drivers to assist the SRCS in its operations in the conflict zone.

" To save lives during the fighting in Omdurman, quick access to the wounded was vital, " said Dr Cleto Chashi, ICRC health coordinator in Sudan. " This was only possible thanks to our close cooperation with the SRCS, which rapidly mobilized volunteers to help those in need. "

  Caring for the wounded  

In May the ICRC's field surgical team, which assists wounded people who have no access to health services, responded to a number of emergencies in Darfur and the Abyei region:

  • from 2 to 5 May the team was deployed to Bentiu, south-east of Abyei, where it treated 35 wounded people, 15 of whom required surgery;

  • on 7 May the team went to the village of Bir Mazza, where it operated on four wounded civilians;

  • On 24 May the team arrived in Almujlad, where it operated on two severely wounded people (24 others were treated at the city's main hospital).

  Distribution of seed and tools in West and North Darfur  

The ICRC continued its large-scale campaign, begun in April, to distribute seed and tools to farming families in Darfur. The campaign aims to enable communities to maintain their traditional livelihoods and thus to avoid displacement. Last year, local economies were disrupted in several areas by fighting, lawlessness and crop failure.

Food rations are also given to each family so that they can save their crop seed for planting instead of eating it. The campaign should reach some 40,000 families in West Darfur, mainly around Jabal Marra, and North Darfur, particularly in the Haskanita area, before the end of the planting season in late July.

  Animal vaccination campaign in North and South Darfur  

The ICRC completed a major round of animal vaccinations, inoculating over 300,000 camels, cows and goats against major diseases in nomadic areas of North and South Darfur. On 28 May it started a new round targeting an additional 150,000 animals in the Kabkabiyya area in North Darfur. The vaccination campaign is designed to help nomadic families preserve their traditional livelihoods and economic independence.

  Emergency aid  

An emergency food distribution was carried out in May in the Buram area, south of Gereida in South Darfur, where thousands of nomadic and semi-nomadic displaced people have been moving in the past two years. Inter-tribal fighting and last year's crop failure has resulted in acute needs among 1,000 newly displaced families. A distribution of essential household items to the same families is taking place this week.

The ICRC also pr ovided urgently needed household items for some 90 nomadic families in the Kabkabiyya. These families, displaced by the conflict and deprived of their livestock, have no means of supporting themselves. 

  For further information, please contact:
  Annick Bouvier, ICRC Khartoum, tel: +249 912 170 576 or +249 183 476 464
  Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 217 32 17 or +41 22 730 22 71