Sudan: ICRC steps up aid effort as referendum inches closer
24-11-2010 Operational Update No 01/10
As political tensions simmer and the public focus shifts from Darfur to the southern referendum, armed clashes continue in different areas of Sudan. The ICRC provides humanitarian assistance to those affected by the armed violence.
An overview of ICRC activities from July to October 2010.
South Sudan and its environs are receiving increased international attention in the run-up to the planned referendum on a possible secession from the north in accordance with the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Potential controversies include the demarcation of north-south transitional regions, notably oil-rich Abyei, which is subject to a separate referendum, and future access to pasture land for nomads.
Following many years of conflict, South Sudan remains poverty stricken, with few public services, and prone to tribal violence. Heavy rainfalls in recent weeks may account for a decrease in armed violence and inter-tribal clashes. Along the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, however, tension is high owing to the presence of armed men. The local population is afraid to work the land for fear of attacks or abduction.
Darfur remains volatile. In 2010, thousands more people reportedly fled their villages amid fighting between government forces and armed groups. Intercommunal violence still flares up regularly, while banditry and kidnapping endanger both civilians and aid workers. An estimated one-third of Darfur’s population remains displaced in camps.
The abundant rains have turned most of the arid Darfuri landscape into a green area and have raised hopes of local farmers, but they have also caused floods around Kutum and Kabkabya, in northern Darfur. The November harvest of cereals is expected to be very good in most places, which should make the population less dependent on relief assistance. However, in some areas of western Darfur, it remains difficult to gain access to the land. Owing to continuous clashes between government troops and an armed opposition group in Jebel Marra, people have not been able to work their fields and weeds have significantly curtailed crop growth.
Assisting displaced families in Western Equatoria
In Nzara County (Western Equatoria), along the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, poor security conditions are endemic. The ICRC has provided tarpaulins, clothes, buckets, axes, hoes and bedding for more than 2,800 people displaced owing to the presence of armed men in the area. It has also provided tomato, onion and carrot seed, and groundnut (a cash crop) seed for 30,000 displaced people in various parts of Western Equatoria. Up to 100 metric tonnes of seed and 10,000 agricultural tools were distributed just in time for the September planting season.
Sustaining livelihoods and supporting farmers in Darfur
In North Darfur, through local community leaders, the ICRC has distributed seed and sorghum, beans, oil, sugar and salt to almost 50,000 people in the Jebel Si area. In addition, it donated tarpaulins, jerrycans, clothes, sleeping mats and sheets, which have been distributed to 1,750 flood victims in the Kutum area by the Sudanese Red Crescent Society .
The ICRC has provided more than 6,600 formerly displaced people who have returned to the Jebel Moon area of western Darfur with tarpaulins, clothes, hygiene items, sleeping mats and sheets, jerrycans, hoes and axes. The items were distributed with the help of local communities.
In close cooperation with the Sudanese Red Crescent and local communities, the ICRC made rented tractors available to 900 people in four villages of the Fase area, near Zalingay, so that they could use them to plough their land instead of having to rely on donkeys or horses. The area is affected by sporadic fighting between tribes and temporary displacement. The community decided to provide the tractors on a priority basis to 150 families of mixed Arab and Fur origin, many of whom had only recently returned to their villages after a period of displacement. More than 80 hectares of land were planted with millet or sorghum seed, which the farmers had themselves procured.
In October, for the second time in 2010, more than 65,000 people in the Bulbul area of South Darfur were given food and seed to help see them through until the next harvest. The area is inhabited mostly by tribes of Arab pastoralists, many of whom lost their livestock during the years of armed conflict and have started working the land.
The ICRC is working in partnership with the State Ministry of Animal Resources to provide veterinary services for pastoralist communities whose main source of income is livestock. Nearly 200,000 head of livestock were vaccinated in North Darfur, and nearly 110,000 in South Darfur. In western Darfur, two refresher courses were conducted in Zalingey and Al Junaina for 55 community animal health workers to enhance their ability to monitor animal health and to bring basic animal health services to the remote pastoralist communities.
Maintaining some activities in Gereida camp while handing over others
In the Gereida camp for internally displaced people (IDPs), the ICRC distributed seed and tools to over 160,000 people to enable those who can reach their home villages to work the fields. In 13 villages around Gereida, the ICRC distributed seed and tools to more than 38,000 people. Since 2009, the ICRC has been slowly withdrawing from the camp – the only one in which it has been directly involved since the onset of the Darfur conflict – to concentrate its efforts on other areas. Food, water and health care are now provided by other humanitarian agencies, while the ICRC continues to run a nutrition centre supported by the British and Australian Red Cross Societies.
Ensuring that displaced people and their host communities have access to clean water
In North and South Darfur, the ICRC continues to make sure that people have access to sufficient quantities of safe drinking water. It also provides water for livestock in rural communities.
In July, before the onset of the rainy season, the ICRC repaired boreholes and hand pumps in various parts of Darfur, benefiting over 12,000 people. In South Darfur, it provided training for water technicians in Nyala and in Gereida.
In South Darfur, the ICRC, through a contractor, continues to support the government-run Sania Deleba health clinics in Nyala by expanding their examination rooms and renovating latrines.
Outside Darfur, in South Kordofan, the ICRC repaired six boreholes providing water for up to 40,000 people and their livestock.
Reuniting families and restoring family links
From July to October, the ICRC collected some 2,750 and distributed over 2,000 family news messages. In addition, it reunited 14 children with their families.
Helping the injured and disabled regain mobility
From July to October, six ICRC-supported physical rehabilitation centres – in Khartoum, Juba, Nyala, Damazin, Kasala and Gedaref – provided prosthetic and orthotic devices, mobility aids and physiotherapy for over 1,000 people, including 282 who received prosthetic/orthotic devices for the first time. Since the beginning of the year, a total of 2,552 people have received ICRC-supported physical rehabilitation services in Sudan.
Reinforcing the ICRC's presence
Over the last few months the ICRC has started to increase its presence in South Sudan, in order to better respond to existing needs for humanitarian aid.
In addition to reinforcing its logistics and human resources set-up in Juba and Malakal, the ICRC is opening an office in Wau (Western Bahr al Gazal). In South Kordofan, the ICRC monitors humanitarian needs on both sides along the 1956 north-south border and stands ready to address them.
Building the capacity of the Sudanese Red Crescent Society
The ICRC has conducted several workshops in order to strengthen the capacity of its primary operational partner, the SRCS, to take action in emergencies caused by natural disasters or armed violence. In Malakal (Upper Nile State) for example, Sudanese Red Crescent volunteers recently learnt in an ICRC-conducted workshop how to ensure that adequate supplies of clean water are available, how to treat surface water and how to repair hand pumps. In a training course conducted in Juba, volunteers learnt how to handle, transport and bury dead bodies, and how to manage stress in difficult situations.
Promoting compliance with international humanitarian law
The ICRC maintained a dialogue with political authorities, armed forces and influential members of civil society to promote compliance with the rules of international humanitarian law and with international standards. Between July and October, the ICRC conducted 13 sessions for over 300 people across Sudan. Military personnel, border guards, Central Reserve Police personnel and officers of the United Nations Missions in Sudan were among those attending.
Together with the Sudanese Red Crescent, the ICRC held three first-aid training sessions for 47 members of the Sudanese armed forces in South Kordofan during September 2010.
For further information, please contact:
Aleksandra Matijevic Mosimann, ICRC Khartoum, tel: +249 1 83 476 464 or +249 912 170 567
Nicole Engelbrecht, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 2063 or +41 79 21 73 217
Hicham Hassan (for Arabic), ICRC Cairo, tel: + 20 225 28 1540 or + 20 187 42 43 44