Central African Republic: aid continues in Bangui and north
04-01-2013 Operational Update
Displaced people in the north of the Central African Republic are beginning to return to their homes. Elsewhere, however, things remain difficult for thousands of people still displaced.
In the capital Bangui, anxiety is acute. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) continues to work closely with the Central African Red Cross Society to help people across the country who have been affected by the fighting.
In the northern town of Ndélé, life is beginning to return to normal as people emerge from the bush and go back to the homes they fled amid fighting in recent weeks. "Ndélé's market, for example, is running again," said Arnaud de Baecque, deputy head of the ICRC delegation. "But there's still an air of uncertainty across the country."
Though most of the town's people are back in their homes, there remain almost a thousand whom the ICRC is supplying with drinking water. Some families whose menfolk have not yet returned and who have no farmland also need food aid. In the coming days, a further thousand displaced people in Kaga Bandoro will receive essential hygiene items and blankets.
The mood in Bangui is one of disquiet. "The ICRC and the local Red Cross are preparing for all eventualities," de Baecque explained. "As a precaution, an ICRC surgeon has toured the city's hospitals to assess what support they might need."
The ICRC is pursuing dialogue with the various entities involved in the fighting, urging them to comply with international humanitarian law, such as the rules protecting the civilian population from the effects of armed conflict. Civilians may not be attacked and anyone wounded in the fighting, including enemy combatants, must be rescued and given treatment according to medical need. Detainees must be treated humanely.
The parties to the conflict are open to the idea of ICRC visits to detainees, de Baecque explained. He stressed that in carrying out such visits the ICRC did not concern itself with the grounds for detention. The visits were intended solely to ensure that the detention was humane and in accordance with international rules, in particular those guaranteeing the detainees' dignity.
With help from the country's Red Cross Society, the ICRC gives first aid and takes wounded people to hospital. The most serious cases are evacuated to Bangui. Despite the ICRC's efforts, however, de Baecque pointed out that it remained difficult to assess the need for humanitarian action outside Ndélé and Kaga Bandoro, the towns where the organization had posted staff. Unfortunately, unpredictable security conditions made it impossible to send staff elsewhere.
Since 28 December:
- Delegates have begun visiting people detained in Bangui in connection with the recent events.
- Six seriously injured people have been flown to Bangui from Ndélé and Ngakobo (near the northern town of Bambari).
- With the help of National Society volunteers, the ICRC has supplied 18,000 litres of drinking water to 1,000 displaced people in Ndélé.
- Meetings have continued at which National Society volunteers give tips to displaced people on maintaining adequate hygiene.
- With the telephone system out of operation, the ICRC has conveyed brief written and oral messages from 100 people living in or near Ndélé and Kaga Bandoro in order to reassure relatives.
- The ICRC has supplied the country's Red Cross Society with 10 stretchers and 50 first-aid kits.
For further information, please contact:
Vincent Pouget, ICRC Bangui, tel: +236 75 64 30 07 or +237 98 81 30 54
Jean-Yves Clémenzo, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 217 32 17