Sudan bulletin No. 6 - 6 August 2004
06-08-2004 Operational Update
Latest report on ICRC activities in the field
Pockets of fighting and attacks persist throughout the three provinces of Darfur, giving rise to further displacement of civilians. There are also continued fears of a possible spillover of the conflict into neighbouring Chad. The question of the relocation or return to their homes of internally displaced persons remains a matter of primary concern for the ICRC, which is monitoring the situation and reminding the authorities of their obligations under international humanitarian law.
The ICRC has entered a second phase of operations in which it is focusing on rural areas, with a view to preventing further displacement towards major camps and favouring the conditions for a voluntary return. At the same time, it has continued its efforts to improve the conditions of displaced and otherwise vulnerable persons in camps and urban centres. Thus, for instance, the extension to Al Hasha Hissa camp, designed by the ICRC, is gradually hosting newcomers who have resettled from Zalingei town. According to the local authoriti es, policemen have been deployed in all camps in the region.
This week, two major distributions of food and material relief were carried out in the Kutum area of Northern Darfur and in Gereida camp in Southern Darfur. Medical and water and sanitation programmes continued to develop in all three provinces.
An ICRC relief convoy, which set off from Khartoum for Darfur on 21 July carrying over 100 tonnes of goods and equipment, successfully reached its final destinations of Nyala, Zalingei, El Fasher and El Geneina at the beginning of August, having crossed 2,000 km of inhospitable terrain.
The ICRC's staff set-up now totals 90 expatriates working for the Darfur operation in Sudan. Over 300 Sudanese staff are also working at the organization's five offices in Darfur (El Fasher, Kutum, Nyala, Zalingei and El Geneina).
- provided basic household items for over 260,000 displaced people in 14 different locations;
- delivered food aid to over 40,000 people;
- upgraded and repaired infrastructure in four hospitals with a total capacity of 860 beds, and provided support in the form of drugs, surgical and medical equipment; two of the hospitals are also backed up with ICRC health teams;
- launched a basic health-care programme aimed at assisting over 134,000 people;
- made arrangements for the daily delivery of 1,200,000 litres of water to over 150,000 people in 30 different locations (camps and towns);
- registered a total of 83 children separated from their families and taken steps to trace over 1,400 persons, including some 450 children and the parents of 55 children.
Assessments and needs
Joint ICRC-Sudanese Red Crescent assessment trips are being carried out increasingly further afield from ICRC bases in Darfur to assess and document protection problems encountered by the population, evaluate food, water and health-care needs, and prepare an appropriate response. The aim is to assist people in or near their places of origin, thus preventing them from becoming displaced, or further displaced, and swelling the already overcrowded camps in urban centres.
Regions covered over the week included Abata, Terej and Cartiy around Zalingei (Western Darfur), and Gereida, El Daien and El Fardous south of Nyala (Southern Darfur). Plans of action were drawn up for food distributions and support for health-care facilities in the coming weeks. In particular, preparations are under way in Gereida to reactivate the town health dispensary and support the rural hospital in cooperation with the Ministry of Health . There are no other organizations currently working in the area.
In the Jebel Marra area visited the previous week, security was found to be the overriding concern among displaced persons living in camps and school compounds or with host families. While a relative improvement in the situation over the past two months was reported, many would still not venture out from camps after dark, for example to fetch water, collect grass or firewood, possibly two to three kilometres from the camp, or go to market. It was further found that local production in Jebel Marra was no longer sufficient to ensure households'food security, and that this was affecting both the displaced people and the host population. Even more worryingly, many villagers were still unable to prepare their land for the coming farming season, as they could not get to their fields. Some displaced persons and residents had started to prepare other land in mountainous areas hardly suitable for farming, although few of them had the necessary seeds and tools. As a result, more farming families are likely to head for camps if they do not manage to plant on time.
The ICRC seized every opportunity to remind the parties to the conflict of their obligations under international humanitarian law, especially as regards the protection of the civilian population. It stressed that any return of displaced persons to their homes or relocation to other sites must take place on a fully voluntary basis.
Assistance (ecosec / wathab / health)
In the last week of July, sorghum, beans, vegetable oil and salt were distributed to over 20,000 vulnerable residents and displaced persons north of Kutum in Northern Darfur (in Anabedji, Orshi and Kurbia and rural Tawila area). Half of them also received essential household items.
Despite heavy rains which hampered access to the camp, tarpaulins, blankets, buckets, soap, clothing and cooking sets were provided for 7,300 people in Gereida camp in Southern Darfur.
The setting up of an ICRC health-care centre in Abshok camp, El Fasher, began on 24 July with the support of the German Red Cross and the Sudanese Red Crescent, and the first patients were seen on 27 July. Since then, medical staff have been treating an average of 150 people a day.
ICRC medical and surgical teams continued to support their Sudanese counterparts in Kutum and Zalingei hospitals. Norwegian Mobile Hospital and Disaster Unit technicians completed their work, all essential equipment having been set up in the relevant departments. Thirty beds, mattresses and covers were supplied for the wards.
Kutum hospital is functioning properly, all urgent needs having been covered; the outpatient department has now been renovated. Upgrading of the hospital in Zalingei is still under way.
Work continued to construct and upgrade wells and water-supply systems in all three provinces, improving access to water for 150,000 people.
In the latest extension to Abshok camp, 30 new blocks for 4,500 people were laid out. In Western Darfur, camp layout and installation of water storage tanks continued for the relocation of displaced persons from Zalingei town centre.
Restoring family links and tracing
The ICRC has so far registered 83 children separated from their families in Darfur (50 in Northern Darfur, two in Western Darfur and 31 in Southern Darfur).
A three-day workshop on the ICRC and international humanitarian law was held for high-ranking officers from the Sudanese armed forces and for the youth centre in El Fasher.
Seventy-five newly recruited ICRC national staff received intensive training on the mandate of the ICRC and an introduction to international humanitarian law in El Fasher, Kutum, and Nyala.
Cooperation within the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement
Sudanese Red Crescent volunteers took part in all relief distributions and assessment trips carried out over the week and in tracing activities. The National Society was fully involved in the setting up of the basic health centre in Abshok camp.
A field assessment and coordination team from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies paid a three-day visit to El Fashir. The team looked at issues of capacity building in the present situation and the role that the Internation al Federation could play here.
Representatives from the British, Netherlands, Canadian and Australian Red Cross Societies arrived in Sudan to identify ways their National Societies could contribute, under ICRC coordination, to the Movement response in Darfur.
A relief plane belonging to the Red Crescent Society for United Arab Emirates landed in El Fasher on 1 August with non-food items for distribution among displaced people in Northern Darfur. This was the first of three planned flights. The Sudanese Red Crescent and the ICRC will carry out the distribution.
Ongoing tension in Sudan's Darfur continues to raise security concerns along Chad's eastern border. In this context, Chad's national army expected to receive support from African Union observers and French troops to enhance security along the border.
A relative calm has returned to the refugee camps of Farchana and Bredjing, where humanitarian organizations have resumed their activities. In the northern and central parts of eastern Chad, camps continue to be set up under UNHCR leadership to relieve towns of the overcrowding they are being subjected to with the arrival of refugees. For the same reason, the Red Cross of Chad has facilitated the relocation of some 12,500 refugees to Oure-Cassoni camp (adjacent to the town of Bahaï). In Farchana and Bredjing, a new camp is being set up in nearby Treguine.
Seasonal rains in eastern Chad are making delivery of humanitarian aid by the World Food Programme increasingly compli cated. However, an agreement between that organization and the Libyan government is expected to improve the situation.
The ICRC is stepping up its presence and activities in eastern Chad, where it currently has almost 30 staff. ICRC delegates are maintaining their contacts with members of Chad's security forces and continue to visit and monitor people deprived of their freedom in several detention centres.
Detention-related activities continue in different locations in eastern Chad along with dissemination activities among the Chadian security forces.
Water and habitatAssessments continue in various locations.
For further information please contact:
Carlo Piccinini, ICRC Khartoum, tel. ++249 9 121 377 64
for Chad: Yves Heller, ICRC Yaoundé , tel. ++237 222 58 59
Marco Jiménez Rodríguez, Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 22 71