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Sudan – ICRC Bulletin No. 49 / 2007

25-01-2007 Operational Update

Latest report on ICRC activities in the field


 Ongoing insecurity  


Insecurity in both urban and rural areas of Darfur continues to disrupt people's daily lives and restrict aid agencies'access to those in need. Rural communities have been particularly hard hit. People's livelihoods are threatened by looting, restricted freedom of movement and lack of access to basic medical services and veterinary care. Coping mechanisms such as petty trade are being undermined by the destruction of crops and shifting front lines. 

For civilians who have fled their villages and sought relative safety in the camps for internally displaced people (IDPs), the situation is also far from stable. Their health and well-being could be jeopardized should humanitarian workers be unable to pursue their activities owing to lack of security. Only a month ago, aid agencies in Gereida suffered a direct attack.


The consequences in humanitarian terms of the recent security incident in Gereida and the subsequent evacuation of aid personnel are beginning to show. Camp residents have at most two weeks of food left and are already worried. The maintenance of water-supply systems is another concern, along with sewage disposal and hygiene promotion. The link between food, hygiene and safe water is so close that neglecting any of these areas can have a direct impact on people's health.

For the ICRC – the only aid agency with international staff still in Gereida – maintaining basic services such as water supply and waste disposal, in addition to implementing its own health and nutrition programmes, has added to the already heavy workload of its eight expatriates and over 200 national staff.



 Elsewhere in Darfur  


Despite the insecurity prevailing in many parts of Darfur, the ICRC is still present in all three states and has maintained a flexible approach to field work, so as to be able to carry out its activities if and when security allows.

In December and early January ICRC teams were able to return to some areas that had previously been off limits owing to insecurity. An assessment was carried out in locations around West Thabit, North Darfur, where ICRC beneficiaries from last year's food distributions have sought refuge after fleeing attacks on their villages. Many are living under trees, and need shelter and blankets, cooking pots, jerrycans and other basic items.

Field trips were also made to other previously insecure areas such as Garsila and Mukjar in West Darfur. However, tension remained high in and around Al Jeneina, the provincial capital of West Darfur, preventing any movement outside the town, apart from one trip to Seleia in mid-December.

In South Darfur, a field trip was made to Muhaja ria, which had been the scene of heavy fighting and unrest towards the end of 2006. Another trip was made to carry out repairs and maintenance work on water-supply systems in Yassin, south-east of Nyala, where tens of thousands of IDPs are gathered. Delegates also travelled south of Buram to provide assistance to IDPs around Radom.

Hopeful though these developments are, the ICRC must remain vigilant as the situation continues to be extremely volatile throughout Darfur. 

 Overview of activities  


In 2006 ICRC teams in Sudan:

  • repaired and/or upgraded water-supply networks in three towns, installed or repaired over 350 hand pumps, and rehabilitated 23 water yards and 17 wells in over 250 Darfur settlements;

  • maintained water-supply systems serving around 80,000 people in four IDP camps;

  • made 63 oral and 11 written representations to parties to the conflict concerning violations of international humanitarian law and their consequences for the civilian population in Darfur;

  • carried out 31 family reunifications involving transfers from Chad to Sudan, five family reunifications for people in different parts of Darfur, and 13 family reunifications in other parts of Sudan, including the south (one involving a transfer from Egypt and another a transfer from Uganda);

  • collected and delivered some 45,500 red cross messages – brief personal messages to relatives separated by events – addressed to civilians living all over Sudan, with over half of them exchanged in Darfur (in southern Sudan, ICRC tracing serv ices are now scaling back their activities as more and more people return from exile in neighbouring countries or find other means of keeping in touch, such as mobile phones);

  • apart from the figures quoted above, collected nearly 200 red cross messages from detainees and delivered over 100 during visits to places of detention;

  • performed 442 operations on wounded combatants and civilians caught up in the fighting (a field surgical team was deployed to front-line areas in North and South Darfur);

  • provided five primary-health-care centres in Darfur with medicines and medical supplies;

  • supported two hospitals in southern Sudan, including Juba Teaching Hospital, where a team of 16 expatriates was based throughout the year (the hospital admitted over 22,500 patients and performed 6,371 operations); provided prostheses or orthoses for almost 2,500 patients at three physical rehabilitation centres supported by the ICRC in Juba, Nyala and Khartoum, and sent students to Rwanda and Tanzania for training;

  • delivered 22,445 tonnes of food to some 311,000 residents and IDPs in Darfur;

  • distributed essential household items, including cooking sets and blankets, to 170,000 vulnerable people in rural areas;

  • supported government-run immunization campaigns for livestock that covered 223,000 sheep, goats, and camels;

  • trained 114 community animal-health workers and provided them with veterinary kits so that they could set up small clinics for livestock in their own communities.

For further information, please contact:
  Jessica Barry, ICRC Khartoum, tel. +249 9121 70576
  Marco Yuri Jiménez Rodríguez, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 79 217 3217

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