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Sudan: ICRC president insists on the respect of international humanitarian law

30-11-2004 News Release 04/71

Khartoum/Geneva (ICRC) - The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Dr. Jakob Kellenberger today ended his visit to Sudan.


  Distribution of clothes in Hamedi IDP camp, Zalingei, Western Darfur. From left: Chiya Aziz Miqdad, ICRC delegate; Jakob Kellenberger, ICRC president; Alexandre Liebeskind, responsible for ICRC Darfur operations© ICRC/J. Bjorgvinsson/ref. SD-E-00237 
He travelled in Darfur for three days and visited al-Fashir, Kutum and Zalingei. The president acknowledged that access to people affected by the conflict in Darfur had improved substantially since his last visit in March 2004. "I feel that the ICRC's approach has been appropriate, namely to focus relief operations on rural areas in order to prevent more people from becoming displaced and facilitate the return of displaced persons to their places of origin", stressed Dr. Kellenberger. He underlined in all his discussions that returns have to be strictly voluntary and that the protection of civilians in these areas has to be significantly improved.

The ICRC president held talks with various members of the government of Sudan. In the light of the serious violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) committed under the responsibility of the government, the ICRC president made a series of recommendations aimed at improving the protection of the civilian population. The core of these recommendations seeks to ensure that the basic principles of IHL are known and respected throughout the chain of command of the forces under the control of the government. The government should moreover take the necessary measures to end the impunity of those who have committed violations of IHL. Dr. Kellenberger made it clear that the ICRC will closely monitor the concrete follow-up given to its recommendations.

With a budget of USD 112 million, Sudan will be the ICRC's largest operation worldwide in 2005. Apart from disseminating IHL and monitoring its respect on the ground, the ICRC has made provisions to assist up to 500,000 people throughout Sudan by providing water, food, essential household items and medical care, in close cooperation with the Sudanese Red Crescent and a number of Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies.

The president of the ICRC will now travel to Nairobi where he will participate in the Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Virginia de la Guardia, ICRC Khartoum, tel.: ++249 91 2137764  

 Marco Jiménez Rodríguez, ICRC Geneva, tel. : ++41 22 730 22 71 or ++41 79 217 32 17