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Update 01/01 on ICRC activities in Zanzibar, Pemba and Unguja Islands

16-02-2001 Operational Update

 General Situation  

Life returned to normal in Zanzibar after 4 days of violence between 25 and 28 January 2001. Events escalated when the government banned demonstrations organized by the Civic United Front (CUF) to demand a re-run of last October's elections. Local health care authorities have reported that over 30 people were killed and 100 injured in clashes with police in Pemba and Unguja islands.

 Humanitarian situation  

However, the situation remains tense on Pemba, where most of the clashes took place. Villagers have fled into the forest and many are unwilling to seek treatment in hospital for fear of being held for interrogation once they have been discharged. Furthermore, according to local sources, people on the islands have been detained in connection with the demonstrations.

Over 1,000 people have fled to the Kenyan coastal village of Shimoni and are in serious need of assistance and in some cases, medical treatment. Many have been cut off from their families and need to re-establish contact. Some families still have no information as to the whereabouts of their relatives.

 The Red Cross Movement Response  

The ICRC, has been co-ordinating the Movement response to the recent crisis together with the Red Cross Societies of Tanzania and Kenya (TRCS/KRCS) and the International Fe deration of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to assist the victims in both countries.

Tanzania is covered by the ICRC regional delegation in Nairobi, which also covers activities carried out in Kenya, and Djibouti.


Between 29 January and 9 February, joint TRCS/ICRC assessments were carried out on Pemba and Unguja to assess the humanitarian needs of the victims of the violence. Five local hospitals (Mkoani, Chake Chake, Wete, Micheweni and Zanzibar town) were visited to establish the type and extent of assistance required. The ICRC has since provided 1.7 tonnes of medical supplies to the three main hospitals in Pemba.

Medical supplies, first-aid kits and 20 stretchers had already been provided by the ICRC to the Pemba branch of the TRCS, to improve its ability to evacuate the wounded for treatment in different hospitals in Pemba. First aid was also provided to 25 wounded villagers who had not attended a hospital.

 Shimoni   (Kenya)  

The KRCS, with ICRC-support, provided tents, tarpaulins and blankets to over 1,000 people who sought refuge in Shimoni. The ICRC also supplied one week-food rations and cooking utensils. The food package contained (per person): 1.5kg of peas, 1.4kg of maize and 0.5 lt. of vegetable oil.

Injured people arriving in Shimoni were taken to the nearest hospital in Msambweni, 15 kilometers away, which received a surgical kit and two dressing kits from the ICRC.

The ICRC collected Red Cross messages in Shimoni to be distributed to relatives in Pemba.


 Future Activities  

Following negotiations with the relevant authorities, the ICRC has been granted access to those held in connection with the demonstrations and will begin visits in Pemba on 19 February 2001. The ICRC had previously   visited 18 CUF leaders detained on the island of Zanzibar on charges of treason. These detainees were eventually released on 9 November 2000.

The ICRC, together with the other components of the Movement, will closely monitor the situation in Zanzibar, to adapt assistance to evolving humanitarian needs. Since regional medical stocks are available, the ICRC is in a position to respond quickly.

In this emergency phase, the KRCS, with ICRC-support, assisted those who had fled to Shimoni, Kenya. The local branches of the KRCS are in the process of reinforcing their ability to respond to the emergency with additional staff and relief assistance.