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Sudan/Chad: ICRC reduces field activities as staff remain in captivity

18-11-2009 Interview

The ICRC continues to press the hostage takers for the unconditional release of staff members Gauthier Lefèvre and Laurent Maurice. Lefèvre was abducted in West Darfur, Sudan, on 22 October, Maurice in eastern Chad on 9 November. The ICRC has temporarily reduced field activities in Darfur and eastern Chad. ICRC head of operations for East Africa, Daniel Duvillard, explains the situation.


Daniel Duvillard, the ICRC's head of operations for East Africa 

 What is the latest information on Gauthier and Laurent?  

We continue to be in regular phone contact with the abductors of both of our staff and with the national and local authorities. We want Gauthier, Laurent, and their respective families to know that everything possible is being done to bring about their swift release. We are not discussing these efforts in detail, to avoid compromising efforts to resolve these crises.

 Is the ICRC reducing its field activities in Sudan and Chad?  

Yes. Immediately following the abductions, we suspended all field movements in West Darfur and in eastern Chad until further notice. As the crises continue, we are suspending field movements in the whole region of Darfur and are adapting our field presence both there and in eastern Chad accordingly.

 What does this reduction mean for conflict-affected people in need of help?  

We are striving to ensure that essential services continue to reach those in need. By that I mean services that no one else can provide, such as in the camp for displaced persons in Gereida, South Darfur, and life-saving services, such as emergency surgery in Abéché Hospital, eastern Chad. We are continuing to provide material support for local facilities such as primary health-care centres, and for the activities of our local partners in those regions, the Sudanese Red Crescent and the Chadian Red Cross.

Prior to the abductions, the ICRC was working in rural and remote parts of Darfur and eastern Chad, where very few other organizations are present. We were giving people access to clean drinking water and helping them to support themselves through farming or herding. The fact that we have been forced to reduce our field activities means a reduction in the level of services we can provide to those people. This is a situation we deeply regret, and we are putting all our efforts and energy into ensuring the swift and unconditional release of our staff so that we can resume these activities as soon as possible.

Finally, we want to stress that this reduction will not affect our work in other parts of Chad and Sudan.