Sudan: humanitarian efforts continue apace

07-07-2011 Operational Update

In recent months, tension and armed violence have increased in the south and in the transitional areas. Darfur also remains an area of humanitarian concern owing to the ongoing armed conflict.

Current situation

Humanitarian needs arising from fighting and other violence remain acute in various regions.

Fighting that erupted in Abyei in mid-May between northern Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) resulted in a number of casualties and massive displacement of civilians.

Less than a month later, fighting broke out in and around Kadugli, the capital of South Kordofan state. The humanitarian situation there is reported to be very worrying. The ICRC has not yet been granted access to the area.

Since the January 2011 referendum, clashes between SPLA splinter factions and the SPLA in the states of Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile have also resulted in casualties and in population displacement. In addition, South Sudan continues to be affected by ethnic violence, while the local population in Western Equatoria remains at threat of attacks by armed elements.

Despite efforts by the conflict parties with support from the international community to reach a political settlement to the Darfur conflict, thousands more civilians fled their homes in the first half of 2011 owing to fighting between government forces and various armed groups, and inter-communal clashes.

The ICRC has been working in Sudan since 1978. Beginning 9 July, its operations in Sudan and South Sudan will be run separately, from Khartoum and Juba respectively.

Supporting Sudanese Red Crescent aid deliveries in South Kordofan

Since fighting first erupted in Kadugli in early June, the ICRC has been providing support for the humanitarian activities of the Sudanese Red Crescent Society, its primary operational partner in Sudan, while continuing discussions with the authorities with the aim of gaining access to the area.

The ICRC delivered to the Sudanese Red Crescent clothes, shelter materials, hygiene items and household essentials for 18,000 people. The ICRC also provided Sudanese Red Crescent emergency action teams with technical advice on the management of dead bodies, and with the body bags they needed to recover the dead. In addition, it supplied dressing materials to three health-care centres in the area.

"We are in discussion with all the authorities concerned in an attempt to gain access to the Kadugli area, so that we can duly fulfil our humanitarian mandate to assist and protect the victims of armed conflict and other violence," said Pascal Hundt, the ICRC's new head of delegation in Sudan.

Helping health-care facilities to cope with casualties in the Abyei area

The ICRC has not been able to go to the Abyei area since fighting erupted there on 19 May.

Within a week, however, the ICRC had provided Muglad Hospital, approximately 180 km from Abyei, and three other health-care facilities with some 1.5 tonnes of first-aid items, dressing materials and surgical supplies – enough to treat more than 100 patients with weapon-related injuries – as a complement to the response of the local health authorities.

The ICRC also helped Sudanese Red Crescent volunteers support Muglad Hospital staff in their efforts to maintain hygiene. When the security situation improved, the ICRC resumed its work upgrading sanitary facilities at the hospital and its support for Sudanese Red Crescent staff working to restore contact between family members.

Helping people suffering the effects of the fighting

One of the ICRC's long-standing concerns has been to meet the needs of the civilian population in the Darfur region of Jebel Marra, who received little humanitarian assistance for over a year. The ICRC had been trying to reach these people since May 2010.

In June, the ICRC succeeded in giving almost 245,000 residents in Jebel Marra enough oil, sorghum, pulses and condiments to sustain them for two to four weeks. More than 168,000 of the same residents were also provided with assorted vegetable, cowpeas, groundnut and sorghum seed and farming tools.

In South Darfur, almost 138,000 residents affected by fighting and drought were given seed and tools, and also a two-week supply of food to increase their nutritional intake during the planting season. The ICRC also gave over 60,000 returnees in villages around Gereida cooking oil, seed and tools in June.

"We are trying to help communities in remote rural areas to resume farming activities and become self-reliant by the next agricultural season," said Christophe Driesse, who is in charge of the ICRC's economic-security activities in Sudan. "Because of the vast size of Darfur, the lack of roads, the security situation and other logistical difficulties, the scale and complexity of the distributions have been extraordinary."

The ICRC provided food for almost 49,000 residents and displaced people in Jebel Si, North Darfur, in January and February.

In an emergency operation, the ICRC distributed food, often in cooperation with the Sudanese Red Crescent, to over 570,000 displaced people and returnees in all parts of Darfur between January and the end of June. It gave almost 13,000 displaced people such essential items as tarpaulins, blankets, jerrycans, buckets, hygiene items and clothes.

In South Sudan, the ICRC provided more than 3,100 people who fled to Old Fangak and Muliki towns in Jonglei state owing to clashes between the SPLA and its splinter groups with shelter material, clothes, bedding, soap and basic kitchen utensils in June. In addition, it distributed seed and tools, and enough food to last two weeks to almost 1,900 displaced people in Old Fangak.

The ICRC distributed a two-week supply of cooking oil, sorghum, pulses and condiments to almost 75,000 people in Upper Nile, Jonglei and Western Equatoria states, in South Sudan, to help them through the first, most traumatic, period of displacement, between March and June. In the same states, it distributed tarpaulins, bedding, jerrycans, soap and basic kitchen utensils to more than 34,000 people displaced by armed clashes between January and April. In May, the ICRC gave more than 15,000 displaced people and residents in Jonglei and Western Equatoria seed and farming tools to help them restore their livelihoods.

Serving as a neutral intermediary in detainee-release operations

Since the beginning of the year, with the agreement of the parties concerned, the ICRC has made arrangements for the release and transfer of 53 SAF personnel who had been detained by various opposition groups in Darfur.

Improving nutrition for displaced people in Gereida Camp

In the Gereida camp for displaced people in South Darfur, the ICRC runs a nutrition centre jointly with the Australian Red Cross that aims to prevent malnutrition in children under five and to improve the nutritional intake of pregnant and lactating women. The centre has distributed more than 66 tonnes of food, including plumpy nuts, milk formula and nutritional biscuits, to over 13,000 women and children since the beginning of the year.

Improving access to health care

The ICRC continues to support seven primary health-care centres in West and South Darfur. The centres provided curative care for over 25,000 patients, including nearly 6,000 women who visited the centres for antenatal care, in the first six months of the year.

The ICRC helped the Ministry of Health to vaccinate more than 12,000 children against tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and hepatitis B, and more than 22,800 children against other diseases. An estimated 117,000 people in Darfur benefited from the ICRC's support for local health-care facilities.

In South Sudan, some 90 weapon-wounded patients were operated on by an ICRC mobile surgical team in the first half of the year. Patients receiving treatment in eight hospitals in Bahri Jebel, Unity, Upper Nile and Bahr Ghazal states benefited from ICRC donations of medicines, dressing materials and other items.

Safe drinking water for people and animals

In South Kordofan and Darfur, in cooperation with local communities and water boards, the ICRC repaired public water points in rural areas and along livestock migration routes to improve access to safe drinking water.

The ICRC trained 204 water hand-pump technicians in North, South and West Darfur and in South Kordofan to maintain the existing public water points and gave maintenance toolboxes and spare parts to the local communities. ICRC partners repaired dysfunctional water yards in villages around Gereida and Al Fashir. Livestock also benefited from the ICRC-repaired water points.

During the first six months of the year, the ICRC made clean water accessible to over 365,000 people in South Kordofan and Darfur.

In South Sudan, the Akobo water project aims to supply clean drinking water for 55,000 residents and people who fled to the Akobo area from tribal clashes in various parts of Jonglei state. During the first months of 2011, the ICRC built a pumping system to run six boreholes with solar energy. In order to pass on the necessary know-how to enable the Akobo community to run the system on its own, the ICRC trained 11 local technicians to maintain the solar-powered pumping system.

Protecting animals from common diseases

Against the backdrop of fighting and poor security conditions in parts of South Kordofan, the ICRC is striving together with the Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries (MARF) to complete a major animal vaccination programme. Some 70,000 head of cattle and around 24,000 sheep and goats were vaccinated in South Kordofan during the month of June against the five most commonly diagnosed diseases afflicting animals.

So far this year, 270,000 animals in West and North Darfur have been immunized against the main animal diseases in Sudan by the ICRC and MARF, while an additional 93,000 animals have been vaccinated in various parts of Jonglei state in South Sudan.

Restoring contact between family members dispersed by armed conflict and other violence

During the first half of the year, the ICRC and the Sudanese Red Crescent together collected 3,173 and distributed 2,851 Red Cross messages exchanging news between family members dispersed by armed conflict and other violence. They also arranged seven times for the exchange of oral greetings (salamat) between Sudanese detainees in Lebanon and their families in Sudan. In addition, the ICRC and the Sudanese Red Crescent helped Sudanese citizens in Libya and other foreigners there to restore contact with their relatives after being separated by the situation in that country.

The ICRC and the Sudanese Red Crescent also helped reunite eight unaccompanied children in South Sudan with their families in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The ICRC organized six video telephone calls between Sudanese nationals detained in the US-run detention centres in Guantanamo and Bagram and their families in Sudan.

Providing physical rehabilitation services

Seven ICRC-supported rehabilitation centres and a mobile unit provide a wide range of services, including fitting people with orthoses and prostheses and providing physiotherapy.

During the first six months of 2011, the ICRC provided physical rehabilitation services in Dongola, Gedaref, Juba, Khartoum, Kadugli, Kasala and Nyala for more than 2,500 patients, including more than 1,000 who received physiotherapy.

Promoting understanding of international humanitarian law

The ICRC continued its dialogue with the armed forces and community leaders to promote their understanding of international humanitarian law and the ICRC's work.

Nearly 120 SAF servicemen, over 500 SPLA personnel and 40 members of the Joint Integrated Units deployed in the transitional areas between the north and the south were acquainted with international humanitarian law during ICRC-run information sessions. In addition, more than 10 officers of the Central Reserve Police attended ICRC courses to become instructors in international humanitarian law.

In addition, more than 220 police and national security officers, over 130 community defence members and over 100 renegade SPLA personnel learned more about basic humanitarian principles by attending briefing sessions run by ICRC staff.

At grassroots level, over 500 representatives of local communities and a variety of civil society groups enhanced their understanding of the ICRC, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the emblem in sessions conducted by ICRC staff.


For further information, please contact:
Julia Gebert, ICRC Khartoum, tel: +249 183 476 465, tel: +249 912 137 764
Adebayo Olowo-Ake, ICRC Juba, tel: +249 912 178 946, tel: +249 811 823 412
Nicole Engelbrecht, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 22 71 or +41 79 217 32 17


Bariguna, Western Equatoria, South Sudan. ICRC and Sudanese Red Crescent staff distribute household items to displaced persons. 

Bariguna, Western Equatoria, South Sudan. ICRC and Sudanese Red Crescent staff distribute household items to displaced persons.

North Darfur, Sudan. A general from the Sudanese armed forces signs the handover certificate confirming that he has received detainees transported by the ICRC. 

North Darfur, Sudan. A general from the Sudanese armed forces signs the handover certificate confirming that he has received detainees transported by the ICRC.

Akobo water yard, Akobo, South Sudan. 

Akobo water yard, Akobo, South Sudan. This ICRC-constructed water yard will serve 55,000 people in and around Akobo. The facility is powered by solar energy, making it independent of the electricity network and reducing pollution.
© ICRC / C. Riegel

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