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ICRC activities in South Kivu − from January to June 2007

07-08-2007 Operational Update

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

 

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. 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.

 
Protection 
 

 Restoring family links  

The ICRC is continuing its traditional work of restoring links between family members who have lost contact as a result of conflict, other situations of violence, or their direct consequences. People who have no other means of restoring or maintaining links with their families can use the Red Cross message service, which operates through a network enjoying operational support from the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The ICRC is continuing to identify unaccompanied children and former child soldiers to put them back in touch with their families – and reunite them where this is in the child's best interests.

The ICRC :

  • collected 6,245 Red Cross messages and distributed 5,103, working in cooperation with the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to help family members exchange news;

  • reunited 14 children, including a former child soldier, with the families from whom they had been separated as the result of the conflict;

  • handled 34 tracing requests for non-accompanied children filed by parents in South  Kivu .

    

 Visits to people who have been deprived of their liberty  

The ICRC is continuing to visit people in permanent and temporary places of detention to promote humane treatment and conditions of detention in keeping with Congolese law and minimum international standards.

The ICRC monitors throughout his or her period of detention any detainee who falls under its mandate and is considered especially vulnerable. This applies in particular to people arrested and detained in connection with an armed conflict or other situation of violence, or 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 organization:

  • carried out 18 visits to permanent and temporary places of detention in Bukavu;

  • collected 57 Red Cross messages from detainees and distributed 32, helping them to exchange news with their families;

  • provided a regular supply of drugs to Bukavu Central Prison and carried out two assessments of the malnutrition rate in two places of detention;

  • provided ad hoc assistance (soap, construction of a latrine) in some of these places of detention with a view to ensuring betted hygiene and also distributed blankets.

    

 Protection of the civilian population in areas affected by armed violence  

The ICRC is maintaining its presence and its proximity to the people in zones where the civilian population is still the victim of armed violence. The organization endeavours 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 is continuing to provide support for health centres and hospitals, for its own limb-fitting, surgical and physiotherapy programmes and for programmes to help the victims of sexual violence.

The organization:

  • provided regular or ad hoc aid for seven hospitals and three health centres in the form of drugs and medical supplies;

  • provided ad hoc support for two hospitals and a health centre in the context of treatment for casualties of war; in addition to providing surgical supplies and drugs, delegated an ICRC surgeon to visit these institutions to monitor special cases;

  • distributed a kit to Bukavu Military Hospital for 20 war casualties;

  • supported training for six qualified nurses in the management of pharmaceutical stocks;

  • provided eight health structures with drug kits for treating the victims of sexual violence (PEP kits); these kits are intended for victims who have managed to obtain care within 72 hours of being raped;

  • provided ad hoc support for the BVES centre in Bukavu, which provides shelter for children in difficulty.

    

 Psychosocial care for the victims of sexual violence  

The ICRC :

  • trained 16 health staff members (in Walungu, Kaniola and Mubumbano) in psychosocial care for the victims of sexual violence;

  • provided care for 176 victims of sexual violence in the counselling centres and homes it supports;

  • provided furniture and household equipment for seven counselling centres which receive and advise the victims of sexual violence.

    

 Physical rehabilitation programme  

This programme supports five centres spread across the country, where civilian and military casualties of war can have access to high-quality physical rehabilitation.

The ICRC :

  • financed orthopaedic support equipment for civilian and military casualties of war at the Henri Kwetu limb-fitting centre in Bukavu;

  • set up a medical car e, surgery and physiotherapy programme for former casualties of war suffering from chronic wounds; thirty patients received free care under this scheme.

    

 Provision of basic necessities  

Many families have lost everything in the conflict. They are struggling to survive and to rejoin society and the economy. The ICRC thus assists many groups by distributing basic necessities or by running agricultural and fisheries projects:

  • 28,245 people in the Bunyakiri and Kaniola areas − displaced persons and those returning following displacement − were given essential items (hoes, kitchen sets, blankets, soap, buckets, clothing, etc.) with a view to boosting the family economy and restoring their means of livelihood;

  • 80 vulnerable women from the Association for the Fight against Domestic Violence received kitchen kits, clothing, soap and blankets in the context of Women’s Day on 8 March.

    

 Aid for farming and fish-farming activities  

  • Each of 784 households, totalling some 3920 people, received a kit of vegetable seeds (eggplants, cabbages, tomatoes, onions and amaranth) and a tool kit (a spade, rake and watering can), and training in horticultural production techniques was also provided in Fizi and Walungu;

  • six associations (316 households) in Kabare, Kalehe, Minova and Mwenga received ad hoc aid in the form of tools and vegetable seeds, in addition to the assistance provided in the target zones;

  • cassava cuttings and bean and groundnut seeds were distributed along with ploughing impleme nts to 1077 households, totalling some 5380 people, and several training sessions were also run on how to combat cassava mosaic disease;

  • 32 associations (1185 households) received tilapia nilotica alevins, fishpond repair and maintenance equipment and gabions for water catchment, and training was also provided in tilapia farming techniques;

  • a group of 30 women belonging to an association assisting the victims of sexual violence in Kabare, near Bukavu, were given seed and ploughing implements in an effort to help them get production going again.

 
Promoting international humanitarian law 
 

The ICRC is continuing to promote awareness of international humanitarian law (IHL) among arms bearers, the authorities and the general public:

  •  984 National Army officers attended dissemination sessions on IHL as well as on the mandate and activities of the ICRC ;

  •  the organization ran three sessions on humanitarian principles and human rights for 172 members of the national police force.

  •  500 civilians attended dissemination sessions on IHL as well as on the mandate and activities of the ICRC .

 
Cooperation with the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo 
 

The ICRC provided financial support and technical assistance in the following areas over the last three months:

  • 20 volunteers from the Red Cross Societ y of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Burhinyi and 20 members of the new bureau of the Society in South  Kivu attended dissemination sessions on the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement;

  • 40 first-aid team leaders were trained in Shabunda;

  • a microproject was financed for the construction of seven standpipes for 25,000 inhabitants of the municipality of Katudu;

  • financial and logistic support was provided for the extraordinary provincial assembly in Bukavu.

 For further information contact  

 Danielle Larrabee, Communication Delegate, ICRC Goma, tel.: 081 036 68 12  

 Wolde Gabriel Saugeron, Communication Coordinator, ICRC Kinshasa, tel.: 081 700 85 36