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Sudan: responding to a complex humanitarian crisis

19-07-2010 Operational Update

Against a background of ongoing conflict and tension in different parts of Sudan, the ICRC continues to provide humanitarian assistance to those affected by the violence. An overview of ICRC activities from January to June 2010.

   
©ICRC 
 
  Akobo community, southern Sudan. ICRC workers drilling one of six new boreholes, which have been equipped with a solar pumping system capable of supplying 50 cubic metres of water per day.    
     

    

 

 Current situation in Darfur  

In recent months the armed conflict in Darfur has gained in intensity, armed clashes in several areas causing further displacement of the region’s people. Coping mechanisms remain very fragile and basic needs such as food, water and shelter are in desperately short supply.

The ICRC is particularly concerned about the situation in the Jebel Marra, Jebel Moon and Jebel Si areas, where no substantial aid has been delivered, due mainly to problems of access since hostilities between the government and opposition forces reignited at the end of February.

Armed violence and insecurity arising from banditry and crime continue to make it very difficult and dangerous for humanitarian organizations to operate in Darfur. The ICRC was obliged to put on hold many of its activities after two of its staff members were abducted in Darfur and Eastern Chad at the end of last year. Following their release and safe return in the first quarter of the year, the ICRC is now gradually resuming its operations.

 Providing agricultural assistance in southern and western Darfur  

The months of May and June form the traditional planting season in western Sudan, and those villagers who managed to access their fields in spite of the volatile security situation were eager to start planting.

West of Nyala, capital of the South Darfur state, the ICRC teamed up with the Sudanese Red Crescent Society and community leaders to distribute seeds and tools to more than 52,000 p eople in Bulbul Dalal Angara, Gandi, Ombalot and Meya. Each family received 30 kg of seeds (groundnut, sorghum, millet and okra), as well as food sufficient for one month to help them bridge the gap until the next harvest.

Around 160,000 people in the Gereida refugee camp and eight neighbouring villages received similar assistance in the form of seeds and hoes, while 76 farming families around Zalingay received improved cross-bred potato seeds.

In the Jebel Si (Kagoro, Tawre, Toronga, Bule North) area, over 5,000 people were also provided with food and seeds. Currently, the ICRC is seeking authorization from the local authorities to continue the distributions in Jebel Si.

 Supporting a vaccination campaign against meningitis in and around Gereida  

    

Gereida camp is home to over 130,000 internally displaced people, some of whom have been there for over five years. The ICRC monitors health conditions in the camp. Since the end of March, more than 50 patients from the camp and the surrounding areas have been admitted to Gereida Hospital with suspected meningitis.

To facilitate an urgent vaccination campaign by the Sudanese Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization in April, the ICRC flew the necessary vaccines from Khartoum to Gereida. Close to 50,000 people between two and 30 years of age benefited from the campaign.

In addition, the ICRC transported nine patients to Al Fashir Hospital in North Darfur for fistula operations – the treatment was organised through the UN Population Fund.

 ICRC facilitates handover of released detainees  

    

In May and June, the ICRC facilitated the transfer of more than 120 detainees – released by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) – to the Sudanese authorities in Nyala and Al Fashir. The ICRC interviewed all the detainees prior to their release to ensure they were being handed over out of their own will.

 Current situation in southern Sudan  

    

In Central and South Sudan, tensions are slowly building as the January 2011 referendum approaches. In the Abyei area in South Kordofan state, clashes between different groups have increased in recent months, raising fears of more violence to come.

In South Sudan, the humanitarian situation remains worrying. Inter-communal clashes and an increase in politically motivated violence have displaced a large number of civilians. Attacks attributed to the Lord’s Resistance Army in the border region in Western Equatoria have left the population increasingly vulnerable. Due to the lack of security, agricultural production in this former bread-basket of South Sudan has significantly decreased. The situation is compounded by the effects of two years of poor rains, and this led to significant food insecurity among the population in South Sudan in the first half of the year.

Accordingly, the ICRC is stepping up its activities and presence in Central and South Sudan.

 Improving access to clean water for Akobo/Pibor communities  

Akobo in southern Sudan continues to shelter nearly 20,000 displaced people f ollowing violent tribal clashes in other parts of Jonglei state in 2009. Most of them are living in deplorable conditions, as are their hosts who share their scarce water supplies with them.

Since March, the ICRC has completed the drilling of six new boreholes, which have been equipped with a solar pumping system capable of supplying 50 cubic metres of water every day. Construction was slow initially as gravel, sand and cement had to be imported from Kosti, about 675 kilometres to the north of Akobo. Equipment such as generators, compactors, cranes and drilling equipment had to come all the way from the Sudanese capital Khartoum, over 1,000 kilometres from the construction site.

“It was not an easy task to get the necessary building materials to Akobo,” said Lana Saleh, the ICRC water engineer responsible for coordinating the shipments from Kosti and Khartoum. " It takes anywhere from three to five days for a barge to travel along the Nile from Kosti to Akobo. "

Meanwhile in Pibor, Gumruk and Likuangole in Jonglei state, an ICRC water team repaired five hand pumps in February/March. Each hand pump serves about 800 people.

In addition, the ICRC distributed essential household items to nearly 5,000 displaced people and residents of Pibor. The town is still sheltering people displaced by communal fighting last year.

 Livestock vaccination in Jonglei concluded  

The emergency operation in Pibor County to vaccinate over 50,000 domestic animals was organized during the dry season, when animals were being moved to remote areas in search of greener pastures and water. The campaign, organized by the ICRC in coordination with Veterinarians Without Borders-Germany (VSF-G) and the Sudanese Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries (MARF), was concluded in early April.

The ICRC trained 20 community animal health workers and provided them with kits to treat and vaccinate animals. Logistical needs and transportation presented a serious challenge to vaccinators, who had to follow small herds deep into the forested swampy areas surrounding the tributaries of the Nile River.

“Nearly 52,000 animals, including 47,000 cows, were vaccinated against dangerous diseases,” said Matthew Kenyanjui, the ICRC livestock specialist in charge of the operation. “In addition, around 10,000 weak cows were separated from the herds and treated for internal and external parasites and bacterial and respiratory diseases.”

All the animals will need to be vaccinated again by the end of the rainy season, so the ICRC will continue its cooperation with VSF-G and MARF in the region.

 Imparting war surgery skills to Joint Integrated Units  

Under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005, Joint Integrated Units (JIUs) – comprising soldiers from the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army – will form the nucleus of the future united Sudanese Armed Forces should the 2011 referendum lead to unity.

In early June, two experienced ICRC surgeons trained 12 JIU doctors in emergency surgical procedures. The course, organized at the JIU's request, was held at the military hospital in Juba, capital of southern Sudan.

“We responded to a request from the authorities to provide specialized surgical training for military doctors who may have to deal with trauma patients in remote areas of southern Sudan, " said Dr Cleto Chashi, the ICRC’s Medical Coordinator in Sudan.

Earlier, in March, 18 JIU doctors, nurses and medical officers had participated in a similar, three-day war surgery seminar.

    

 For further information, please contact:  

    

 Aleksandra Matijevic Mosimann, ICRC Khartoum, tel: +249 1 83 476 464 or + 249 912 170 567  

 Nicole Engelbrecht, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 2063 or + 41 79 21 73 217