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Sudan – ICRC Bulletin No. 47 / 2006

20-11-2006 Operational Update

Latest report on ICRC activities in the field

  Access to many parts of Darfur is still difficult  

Regular access to Darfur was impossible   during October. It is not only the general insecurity prevailing in situations of armed conflict that makes an area inaccessible. Places where there is no fighting, but where banditry and other crimes are rife , can also be extremely dangerous. The ICRC is keeping a close watch on the situation and maintaining a flexible approach so that it can carry out ad hoc or   planned activities   wherever feasible. It is also ready to respond to emergencies or to requests for the services of its field surgical team in areas where clashes have taken place but where no medical facilities are available.

Access to South Darfur has been somewhat easier of late. The ICRC was able to send a team, which included an agronomist and a food security expert, to assess the results of a distribution of seed and tools   around Mallam.

The team's preliminary findings indicate that this has been a good year for agriculture in the area, and that most people will be able to satisfy their basic requirements for food until the next harvest. However, this is not true for that quarter of the population which is chronically poor and for internally displaced persons (IDPs).
  Protection of water points  
Water is scarce in many villages in Darfur at the best of times, and this vital resource is being further strained in some places by the presence of large numbers of animals whose traditional migration routes have been blocked by the fighting. In addition, village water yards, pumps and wells have been damaged during attacks or as a consequence of looting, and this has made entire communities vulnerable. During October, the ICRC repaired water yards in Assunta and Tajiriba. It also installed hand pumps in a number of places and carried out assessments in six villages in Southern Darfur.
  Awareness of international humanitarian law  
International humanitarian law prohibits attacking, destroying, removing or rendering useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population (such as water points, food stocks and crops).

During every field trip, delegates hold confidential discussions, with different contacts, on various issues having to do with people who are protected by international humanitarian law. They help to put separated families back in touch with one another by collecting and delivering Red Cross messages, and follow up requests for tracing missing persons.


The ICRC also seeks to raise awareness of its work and mandate, and of the basic principles of international humanitarian law. It regularly addresses a variety of audiences: soldiers and other fighters, village leaders, sheikhs, camp residents, women's groups, young people, and many others.
  Medical activities in Darfur and southern Sudan  
The ICRC's field surgical team was sent to North Darfur to treat several persons who had been wounded in clashes north of Kutum in late October. It also went to Gereida to check on patients recovering from surgery for wounds sustained in the fighting that had taken place in and around the town at the end of September. In addition, the ICRC helped the Ministry of Health carry out its Expanded Programme of Immunization in Gereida and Zalingei. 

In early November, many people suffering from acute watery diarrhoea were admitted to the Juba Teaching Hospital's (JTH) isolation ward, which became full in one night. This reactivated the Juba cholera taskforce and set in motion the JTH's cholera-preparedness plan. The taskforce is working to set up oral rehydration centres around Juba and assessing sites for the construction of a cholera treatment centre within Juba, in case of a persistent epidemic.

The ICRC has 16 delegates working at the JTH. They provide support, guidance and on-the-job training for the Sudanese staff. The hospital staff's swift and effective response to this latest outbreak has helped to keep the situation under control. Members of the expatriate team were also called out at night, three times in one week, to operate on people wounded during armed clashes along the road from Juba to Torrit.
  Capacity building  
On 4 October, 14 students, who had successfully completed the first part of a three-year training course at the ICRC-supported National Authority for Prosthetics and Orthotics Centre in Khartoum, resumed their studies. This term, the group, which in cludes three women, is being trained in lower-limb orthotics. The course is recognized by the Sudanese Ministry of Higher Education and by the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics. The ICRC also provides two courses in lower-limb prosthetics to upgrade the skills of senior technicians and help them improve the quality of orthopaedic appliances . Training in physiotherapy is available at the centre in Khartoum.

Twenty community animal-health workers took a basic ICRC training course for para-vets in Al-Jeneina. This was the fourth such course to be held this year in Darfur. A total of 70 workers have been trained. The programme is implemented in close collaboration with the Department of Animal Resources and Fisheries. At the end of their training, participants receive medical kits to enable them to start their own small animal clinics in their communities.


 In October and early November, the ICRC:  
  • Repaired water yards in Assunta (15,000 inhabitants) and Tajiriba (14,000 inhabitants and 5,000 IDPs).
  • To mark the Eid festival at the end of Ramadan, assisted the Sudanese Red Crescent in donating food to charitable organizations, orphanages and vulnerable individuals. A little over five tonnes of food was distributed to 28,331 people in Khartoum, Al-Fashir, Al-Jeneina, Zalingei, Nyala and Gereida.
  • Supported the Juba Teaching Hospital, which provided 2,501 outpatient consultations and admitted 1,531 patients, including 292 surgical cases. The JTH performed 435 operations, 23 of them necessitated by gunshot wounds.
  • Donated sutures and other medical supplies to the Seleia primary health clinic after the fighting began around Jebel Moon in Western Darfur.
  • In Gereida, vaccinated 1,154 children under the age of one against polio, diphtheria, measles and tuberculosis, and in Zalingei, immunized 1,141 children against polio, measles and tuberculosis.
  •   For further information, please contact:
      Jessica Barry, ICRC Khartoum, tel. +249 9121 70576
      Marco Yuri Jiménez Rodríguez, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 79 217 3217