The ICRC in the Horn of Africa – 2005 activities and prospects
The impact of various conflicts, as well as post-conflict situations, in several countries stretching from Eritrea to Chad defines ICRC priorities in this region.
Political and tribal tensions, pervasive poverty, environmental fragility and resource-related tensions intensify these crises and affect the lives of tens of millions of people.
The ICRC has two priorities. First, in the context of armed conflict, to strive to ensure through dialogue and diplomacy, the respect of rules applicable to the conduct of hostilities by governments and all armed rebel movements. Second, to provide meaningful humanitarian assistance and protection to the populations that are directly exposed and affected by armed conflict or violence.
The people of Ethiopia and Eritrea continue to suffer from issues left over from the international armed conflict between them. Ethiopia experiences episodic violence in various areas such as the country's Somali region. In neighbouring Somalia, chronic conflict reminds us constantly of the country's recurrent emergencies related to violence, natural catastrophe and poverty. In southern Sudan, in spite of the recent peace agreement, there remain huge challenges directly related to 20 years of internal warfare.
Sudan's remote Darfur region is the theatre of a conflict that has generated a huge humanitarian crisis. The spillover effect into Chad is taking its toll on the basic well-being of the local population and Sudanese refugees. And though Kenya lives in peace, different areas of the country are suffering from bloody inter-tribal clashes.
Djibouti and Tanzania are at peace; a permanent dialogue exists with those countries related to humanitarian issues and international humanitarian law.
IHL has suffered histor ically from a lack of respect and has been trampled upon during various conflicts in this part of the world. Sudan is an example of a conflict where there are large-scale, serious and repeated violations of IHL. It is clear that the scale of today's conflict-related humanitarian problems in the Horn and East of Africa is connected to this phenomenon.
The ICRC will continue to work all over the region in its role as a strictly independent humanitarian player. It will operate to alleviate the human damage of IHL violations, while trying to work toward the prevention of these violations.
Success, however, depends on the will and capacity of those who use weapons and take the political and military decisions which would give life and reality to the notion that even wars have limits.