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Update N°99/01 on ICRC activities in Algeria

03-06-1999 Operational Update

 ICRC strengthens cooperation with Algerian Red Crescent  

 Two new cooperation programmes  

The ICRC and Algerian Red Crescent (ARC) have taken an important step towards reinforcing their cooperation, with the agreement on two programmes which are to be implemented over the coming year. The programmes were proposed to the ICRC by the ARC in March, with the assistance of an ICRC cooperation delegate.

The first programme seeks to provide psychological assistance to the victims of violence, in particular women and children, and is an extension of existing ARC projects. The programme was launched at the end of May 1999, after a two-week mission to Algeria by an ICRC child psychiatrist and a cooperation delegate. This mission made clear the difficulties facing psychiatrists in Algeria, in terms of working conditions, means, and training possibilities.

The second cooperation programme is a transitional plan to develop the operational capacity of the ARC in four areas: first aid, communications, the promotion of international humanitarian law, and the institutional development of the National Society.


For years, the ICRC has successfully cooperated with the ARC on an ad hoc basis. The new programmes, however, will permit a qualitative and quantitative strengthening of cooperation, to the benefit of the civilian population.


The ARC is already very active in the fields of health (both preventive and curative) and social work. In particular, it provides training in and administers first aid, and carries out the following social programmes: distribution of material for schools, hot meals during Ramadan for needy families, programmes for refugees, and kindergartens and holiday camps for needy children, in particular victims of violence. Of special significance are the ARC's training and social insertion programmes for young people and for women, which are held in social-educational centres run by the local Red Crescent committees.

 Psychological rehabilitation programme  

The first new cooperation programme covers 5,000 victims of violence, including 4,400 traumatized 6-19 yearolds, and 600 women aged 16-30 who have been the victims of violence. The project spans 8 areas of the country, each area comprising 6 geographical regions, and will cost 531,000 CHF for the first year. It embraces the following two target groups:

 --  Orphans and child victims of violence   --  

Many children and young people have been the victims or witnesses of acts of terrible violence in Algeria since 1989. The impact on the psychological balance of these children and young people, who are often without support and resources, requires all measures to be taken in order to guarantee their psychological rehabilitation and reinsertion into a family-type environment.

 --Women victims of violence --  

Similarly, women and young girls are often the victims of abuse, which cau ses serious psychological and social handicaps.

In order to help these vulnerable groups, the ARC, together with other national institutions, has prepared a programme for the psychological rehabilitation of traumatized orphans, children, young girls and women. This includes the setting up of rehabilitation centres and help groups, in cooperation with the relevant government ministries.

 More specifically, 2,000 6-17 traumatized yearolds are to receive assistance through a national network of 26 centres. The ARC will also provide support for 1,100 traumatized children who are having difficulties at school, through a network of 36 centres. The ARC and its state partners will promote the social reinsertion of 1,300 18-19 year olds though a network of 16 centres. 10 rehabilitation centres are to receive 600 young girls and women. The ICRC will provide training, equipment, financial and human resources. It will help to cover some of the material needs of the centres (psychological tests, educational and recreational material, libraries) and to set up additional centres. The ICRC will also help the ARC develop its human resources, and organize the training of trainers.  

 Transitional plan to develop the operational capacity of the ARC  

The second cooperation plan aims at developing the operational capacity of the ARC, which is extending its activities both in relation to the situation within the country and to the results of external crises (displaced persons from neighbouring Mali, Niger and Western Sahara). In view of this increase in its activities, the ARC has already begun reinforcing its structures and establishing new services and programmes, and promoting its activities within the country to mobilize national resources and support.

As part of this proces s, the ARC and ICRC have drawn up a transitional plan of action covering four fields of activity: first aid, communications, the promotion of international humanitarian law, and the institutional development of the National Society. This cooperation programme aims to assist 48 regional branches of the ARC, and covers 1,648 members, including decision-makers, trainers, health and dissemination officers. It will be carried out across the eight areas of the country. The first phase of the programme will last one year and will cost 533,470 CHF.

Within this programme, the ARC will be giving priority to restructuring, training trainers for the regional branches and national headquarters, and providing advice. In particular, 48 regional trainers will receive first aid training, and support will be provided for the training and organization of 48 brigades of 20 first-aiders in the 48 local committees. It is planned to include instruction in basic psychology as an essential element in first-aid training. The ICRC will help fund the programmes, provide training and advice.

 Detention activities  

In addition to assisting the civilian population, the ICRC has made constant efforts to regain access to detainees in Algeria since the suspension of visits to detainees in June 1992. The Algerian authorities recently gave their permission for the ICRC to start visiting detainees again who are held under the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice, in accordance with ICRC working procedures. The ICRC will carry out a technical mission in June to prepare for these visits.