Update No.99/02 on ICRC activities in Algeria
15-12-1999 Operational Update
Activities on behalf of detainees
Following an agreement with the Algerian government, the ICRC carried out a first round of visits between 10 October and 15 November 1999 to all places of detention under the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice in Algiers, Annaba and Oran.
The visits were conducted by five ICRC delegates including one medical doctor. The delegates were given full access to all premises and all detainees in each location. During this first series of visits in Algeria they visited 11 places of detention holding a total of 6,980 inmates (figure provided by the directors of the facilities visited), and held private interviews with 457 detainees.
The ICRC's findings concerning conditions of detention and the problems raised by the detainees were discussed with the detaining authorities.
The ICRC will submit a report to the Algerian government in due course, and the dates for the next round of visits will be set by mutual agreement.
The resumption of visits to detainees had been a major ICRC goal ever since visits were suspended in 1992.
Cooperation with the Algerian Red Crescent (ARC):
Assistance programmes for the civilian population
Since May 1999 the ICRC has been increasing its support for the victims of violence in Algeria through cooperation programmes with the Algerian Red Crescent Society (see Update N°1 of 3 June 1999). Two main spheres of activities are covered:
- the psycho-social rehabilitation of traumatized children and women
- the development of the ARC's operational capacity, in particular in the fields of first aid, communication and dissemination of international humanitarian law.
These programmes entail a significant broadening of the ICRC's relationship with the Algerian Red Crescent. In the past, the ICRC supported ARC assistance programmes for needy families during Ramadan and the organization of summer camps for children from poor families.
This cooperation has been formalized for the year 2000 in the form of four cooperation agreements signed with the National Society. The success and the pace of implementation of these wide-ranging programmes will depend very much on the capacity of the various partners (ICRC, ARC and the respective government ministries) to interact and to learn from each other in what will be a new experience for all concerned.
Psycho-social rehabilitation of victims of violence
This programme, which is an extension of existing ARC projects, seeks to provide psychological assistance for the victims of violence, in particular women and children. With ICRC support, the ARC aims to meet some of the most pressing needs both through its own help centres and by offering assistance and training to psychologists and social workers working in centres run by the Ministries of Health and Labour. The ICRC's strategy is thus to support structures that are already in place. ICRC support includes the services of a psychiatrist specialized in the treatment of traumatized women and children and the distribution of material, books and tests in accordance with need, as well as financial support.
The planned number of beneficiaries of this programme for the year 2000 is around 4,400 children and 600 women, and 240 professionals from the medical and paramedical sectors.
a/ Psychological rehabilitation of child (especially girl) victims of violence .
The ARC-ICRC programme, implemented in coordination with the respective Ministries, aims to:
- provide material and coordination support for 70 children's centres (run by the Ministry of Labour) and 20 help cells (run by the Ministry of Health);
- provide training for staff (psychologists and educators) at centres assisting traumatized children and girls; in particular, provide specialized training for psychotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists treating the most serious cases.
Over the coming months, this will involve:
- identifying training needs and defining a training module for staff, to be tested via two week-long seminars for 15 participants each;
- organizing a first meeting for 60 or so psychologists and educators working at the centres run by the Ministry of Labour, to take place in January 2000, including information and discussion workshops on various themes. This will be an opportunity for exchanging experiences and promoting a contact network between the different groups.
Training is envisaged at a later stage for psychiatric and non-psychiatric medical staff (paediatricians, gynaecologists, generalists), people otherwise in contact with the children (teachers, social assistants, crèche staff, first-aiders), and the general population, in particular the families of victims of violence.
- support ARC initiatives, for instance by:
- helping finance ARC children's holiday camps;
- facilitating the ARC's work in gathering and coordinating the necessary data for implementation of the project;
- giving the ARC coordination cell the means to effectively manage the scientific library, databases, and pedagogic material provided by ICRC. This entails setting up an electronic network for the distribution and exchange of documents and for consultation.
b/ Psychological rehabilitation and social reinsertion of women and young girl victims of violence
Women directly affected by the violence and rejected by their families can join ARC workshops where they can live and earn their keep, with Red Crescent infrastructure throughout the country at their disposal. The skills learned and profession acquired in the workshops are important factors in the process of psychological healing and social reinsertion. The workshops also serve as help groups. In 1999, the ICRC financed the purchase of sewing and embroidery machines and other equipment for three workshops.
In the year 2000, the ICRC will continue working closely with the National Society, for instance by providing assistance and expe rtise in implementing the programme. In particular, it will provide competent personnel to advise, assist and train ARC staff. The ICRC will provide financial support for the opening of seven ARC centres for the training and reinsertion of women and girl victims of violence in the affected areas.
Development of the operational capacity of the ARC
a/ First aid
The National Society and ICRC have identified emergency preparedness as a major area for cooperation. After a joint Swedish Red Cross-ICRC assessment mission to Algeria in August 1999, it was decided to help the Algerian Red Crescent to develop its first-aid programme by: training first-aid trainers, organizing first-aid brigades in high-risk areas, and equipping eight training centres with didactic material and equipment.
The National Society has 187 first-aid trainers, active in 48 Wilayas (governorates). The goal for the year 2000 is to have 100 training centres and to train 10,000 first-aid volunteers. All work on a voluntary basis and have a medical background.
The general objective is to help strengthen the ARC's capacity to respond to emergencies, by concentrating on the field of first aid.
The International Federation, which plans to open a regional delegation in Tunis next year, will be associated to this programme. It is assisting the National Society at policy level to introduce and disseminate the new First Aid Policy adopted by the Movement.
In January 2000 : This programme will enable the ARC to send eight of its first-aid trainers to selected National Societies to observe and participate in first-aid activities and to share experiences. This will empower the ARC to direct and develop its own first-aid programme. The eight ARC trainers will be received by participating National Societies from 17-23 January 2000. These could include the Belgium Red Cross, the French Red Cross and the Swiss Red Cross.
On their return, the participants will present their experiences at a national first-aid meeting and workshop, to be held at the end of January. Some 200 people are expected to attend, including first-aid officers from across Algeria, and representatives of the Ministry of Health and the Civil Defence Directory. The goal of this meeting is also to define a national first-aid policy, strategy and plan of action.
In February-March 2000 : Two ICRC trainers will go to Algeria for two months to give week-long refresher courses for 144 first-aid trainers at eight ARC poles (each pole being a group of 6 or 7 branches). The courses will focus on the latest developments in first-aid techniques, teaching methods and equipment.
Other specific objectives:
- provide financial support for the salary of the first-aid coordinator
- equip 100 ARC training centres with basic didactic material
- help finance the production of 500 trainers'manuals and 5,000 manuals for first-aiders
- organize 48 rapid intervention brigades (one per Wilaya) and equip them with 29 individual first-aid kits, 20 pairs of overalls, 4 stretchers and 20 collective first-aid kits.
The planned beneficiaries of this programme in the year 2000 total: 28,000 ARC members, including 10,000 first-aiders, spread out across the 48 regional structures and 228 local structures involved in the programme.
b/ Dissemination of humanitarian law
The ICRC furthers the promotion and dissemination of humanitarian law in Algeria by providing the ARC with information relating to humanitarian law and adequate communication equipment.
- support the ARC documentation centre by providing information on questions relating to humanitarian law, traumatism, psychological rehabilitation
- provide the ARC with " Exploring Humanitarian Law " modules for it to adapt and disseminate in collaboration with the Ministry of Education
- support the organization of two dissemination training seminars on humanitarian law, lasting one week each, for 48 communications officers in the governorates
- support dissemination by the ARC of a monthly information bulletin on its activities and the production of 12 radio/TV programmes by the national media