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The ICRC in central and southern Africa – 2005 activities and prospects

25-05-2005 Feature

As a result of the tragedy that hit Rwanda 11 years ago and the consequence this genocide had not only in Rwanda, but in the entire sub-region, the ICRC is particularly active and committed to its humanitarian work through its delegations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.


© ICRC / Boris Heger / ref cd-e-00197 
Democratic Republic of the Congo: An ICRC delegate speaks with detainees at Goma central prison. In accordance with its mandate, the ICRC visits prisons in the Congo holding persons arrested on security grounds and in connection with the various conflicts of recent years. The purpose of these visits is to verify whether their treatment and conditions are in keeping with international standards. The detaining authorities' chronic lack of resources has prompted the ICRC to accompany its visits with the distribution of food and various other items to make the prisoners' day-to-day life less arduous.
© ICRC / Walter Jeanty / ref cd-e-00146 
Democratic Republic of the Congo: Seed and other essential items being distributed to displaced people in South Kivu. The inhabitants of this province have been enduring the effects of both internal and regional conflict for years: repeated pillage, numerous armed excesses, destruction of infrastructure, disappearance of health-care services, etc. While ICRC aid enables people to survive in this extremely dire situation, it is also helping them struggle back toward self-sufficiency.
© ICRC / Marco Longari / ref rw-n-00175-07a 
Rwanda: Children separated from their families. Despite the ICRC's efforts, almost 1,000 children in Rwanda have still not been able to locate their families from whom they became separated either during the 1994 genocide or the mass population movements of 1996-97. In the past 10 years, the ICRC has nevertheless managed to reunite over 70,000 with their loved ones.
© ICRC / Thierry Gassmann / ref ao-e-00185 
Angola: Mine victims resting after a rehabilitation session in the Luanda limb-fitting centre supported by the ICRC and the Angolan health ministry. All of the country's 18 provinces are mine-infested to some degree or other. The millions of devices lurking in the ground constitute an ever-present threat and a major obstacle to the economic recovery on which Angolans have pinned their hopes since the civil war ended.
The ICRC is active in the area of the Great Lakes, southern Africa and the islands of the Indian Ocean.

In the region's countries currently suffering hostilities or the sequel of past conflicts or recently ended violence, the ICRC plays a key role in providing protection and assistance to the local population. In terms of detention for example, the ICRC makes constant efforts to gain and maintain access to people deprived of their freedom. Strengthening dialogue with the authorities responsible for detention is a vital means to this end.

Concerning the civilian population caught up in conflict, the objective of the humanitarian work is two-fold:

  • to enable people to live in an environment in which the various arms carriers respect them as individuals not taking part in the hostilities.

  • to give the people the chance of living in a decent and dignified manner, with the possibility of reaching a certain degree of self-sufficiency.

In this regard, the ICRC is pushing for the development of special programmes targeting victims of sexual violence. These plans aim at integrating this aspect into ICRC activities in the fields of prevention, protection and health.

The ICRC will continue to develop its work to re-establish family links in the region. In the Great Lakes, for example, the ICRC has helped reunite thousands of families since 1994, just as it has done in Angola since 2002 . This concerns children separated from their families, many of whom have had to leave their homes, sometimes fleeing their countries to become refugees.

In central and southern Africa, as guardian of international humanitarian law (IHL), the ICRC pays particular attention to its mandate to raise awareness of the law among the members of the armed forces (including those undergoing training), other arm carriers as well as among the members of regional peace-keeping forces.