Sudan – ICRC Bulletin No. 51 / 2007
10-05-2007 Operational Update No 07/51
Latest report on ICRC activities in the field
While peace talks concerning Darfur continue, the ICRC remains focused on its humanitarian work in the region. It maintains its flexiblility in coping with the prevailing insecurity as it attempts to reach rural communities in need. Unfortunately, many people remain beyond the ICRC's reach and their needs go unmet.
The ICRC is the only humanitarian organization with a large-scale operation and a large international staff in the Gereida camp in South Darfur, where it continues to supply the basic needs of displaced people.
At the beginning of April, over 100,000 people received their monthly rations of sorghum, lentils, salt, sugar and soap.
The supply of water in the Gereida camp is guaranteed by the ICRC, which supervises the maintenance of the water system. It is also constructing more latrines to improve sanitary conditions in the camp. A team of 50 volunteers from the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) assists the camp's residents to dispose of waste and animal carcasses at newly dug dumping sites outside the town of Gereida.
Every week, at the therapeutic and supplementary feeding centre that it operates jointly with the British Red Cross and the Australian Red Cross, the ICRC treats over 700 malnourished children under five years old. The children are treated for worms and receive, in addition to necessary medical care, vitamin supplements and a special food mix that provides the equiv alent of about 1,500 calories a day.
At the main clinic in the camp, which is run by the ICRC, an average of 400 consultations a day for respiratory diseases, diarrhoea, bilharziasis, and other ailments are being carried out. The midwives in charge of mother-and-child health care conduct between 40 and 50 antenatal consultations and vaccinate about 30 children a day. Twice within the last two months, the ICRC's mobile Field Surgical Team has been sent to the Gereida hospital, where it operated on nine patients.
Besides ensuring that the basic needs of the camp's residents are being met, the ICRC also assists people who have returned to their villages, mainly by helping to revive agricultural production and by ensuring the supply of water. The ICRC's overall strategy in Darfur is to focus on remote rural areas and help their inhabitants become self-sufficient, so as to check the displacement of aid-seekers to urban centres.
In the weeks ahead, before the rainy season, the ICRC will provide essential household items such as kitchen sets, tarpaulins, blankets, sleeping mats, clothing and jerrycans to about 3,500 households – residents and returnees – in villages around Gereida.
The ICRC continues to follow cases of families separated by the conflict, particularly when children are involved. For example, at the end of April, the ICRC reunited a fifteen-year-old girl with her mother in Al Geneina in West Darfur. The girl was living with a foster family who had found her in September 2003, at the beginning of the conflict. Fearful for their safety, the family decided to move to Zalingei, taking the young girl with them. The ICRC found her mother in Al Geneina and took the girl from Zalingei to Al Geneina.
The volatility of the situation in Darfur hampers the efforts of tracing volunteers and ICRC s taff. The ICRC makes a special effort to train SRCS volunteers working in areas where access to ICRC teams is either irregular or non-existent. Volunteers regularly distribute Red Cross messages and actively trace people, especially children, whose relatives are searching for them.
Promoting humanitarian law in southern Sudan and throughout the country
As required by its mandate, the ICRC seeks to raise awareness of and ensure respect for international humanitarian law. It holds information sessions regularly for those bearing arms. A few sessions of this kind recently took place in Rumbek and Malakal, for 40 high-ranking officers of the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and 400 former members of armed militias who had recently joined the Sudanese armed forces. This was in keeping with the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
In addition, the ICRC works with both the Sudanese armed forces and the SPLA to incorporate provisions of humanitarian law into their training and operations.
It also regularly reminds armed groups and militias of the basic rules applicable in times of conflict and speaks with all sides to secure access to people in need in Darfur.
Cooperation with the Sudanese Red Crescent
The ICRC has been supporting the SRCS for many years, with the intention of strengthening its capacity in the following areas: disseminating fundamental principles and values, re-establishing family links, and emergency preparedness and response.
The General Assembly of the SRCS, held in Medani (in the state of Gezeira) in early April, elected a new Central Committee, which chose, from its ranks, a ten-member Executive Committee. Dr Habib Mathoum, a former governor of the state of South Kordofan, was elected president and a representative from southern Sudan, Mark Akio from Juba, was elected vice-president.
The General Assembly agreed on revisions to the statutes of the SRCS, reaffirming the SRCS as one National Society under one governance and with one distinctive emblem. It formally endorsed the establishment of a " Southern Secretariat " with responsibilities for administration and cooperation. The aim is to strengthen the role of the SRCS in southern Sudan, expand its volunteer base and open branches in areas where it has no presence.
In southern Sudan, the ICRC adapts its activities to match evolving needs in a post-conflict situation. It focuses on capacity-building in implementing humanitarian law (for the government of southern Sudan and the SPLA), on physical rehabilitation, and on supporting the SRCS in assisting those who are most vulnerable.
For further information, please contact:
Cecilia Goin, ICRC Khartoum, tel: +249 912 13 77 64
Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 217 32 17