The ICRC in West Africa – 2005 activities and prospects
The ICRC's current activities in West Africa are multiple; two places, however, draw particular attention: Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire.
In Liberia, the ICRC is seeking to give people back the dignity they deserve and the means to return to their homes after years of displacement and refuge in neighbouring countries.
In the badly affected district of Lofa, for example, the ICRC has just distributed seeds and agricultural tools for some 65,000 families to help them become self-sufficient and no longer depend on external aid. In the same area, the ICRC is cooperating with the Ministry of Health to help rebuild a comprehensive health system for the population.
In addition, the ICRC tracing programme is extremely important here and across the whole region. It helps families, in particular unaccompanied children, to be reunited after years of separation due to the conflicts.
In Côte d'Ivoire the conflict has disrupted basic services.
The ICRC helps preserve access to drinking water for 1,500,000 people in the northern urban centres by maintaining infrastructure and providing necessary materials. It also maintains a dialogue with all parties to the conflict to guarantee equal provision of services to all those Ivorian affected by the crisis.
In the future, the ICRC will continue to respond to meet the needs of those affected by conflict and tension across West Africa.
Of the 24 countries included in this region, 15 require immediate attention. Detention, family reunification, assistance and projects to guarantee access to water are the main activities accomplished on a daily basis.
The further development of local Red Cross Societies taking care of the most vulnerable is also at the top of the agenda for the ICRC.
Although some of the region's priorities are not necessarily covered by the ICRC's mandate: HIV, poverty, desertification, migration to name but a few, the institution coordinates with other humanitarian and development agencies.
Last but not least, the ICRC promotes dissemination, ratification and implementation of international humanitarian law treaties all levels of society.