Sudan bulletin No. 8 – 20 August 2004
20-08-2004 Operational Update
Latest report on ICRC activities in the field
Security continues to be the main concern for everyone in Darfur, the displaced and those who stayed behind in towns or damrats (Arab settlements). Many do not dare venture outside their villages or camps beyond a radius of a few hundred meters, making supplies such as food and water difficult to get and working the land nigh impossible.
As a result, needs are multiplying. After security, the main priorities remain food, shelter (clothing, blankets, mosquito nets) and health. The health authorities and the humanitarian players, with WHO as the lead agency, are coordinating to control an outbreak of hepatitis E in camps located for the most part in Western Darfur that so far has affected over 1,000 people. Other illnesses reported are malaria, diarrhoea, respiratory infections, jaundice and malnutrition.
Many displaced persons are desperate to re-establish contact with relatives or people from their home area who have fled to other regions. In this context of massive displacement, people worry about their future. Land and family attachments as well as the pastoral lifestyle have been disrupted for all groups: farmers cannot plant or harvest because of the security situation in their home areas, and nomads cannot trade because the fighting in many regions has drastically limited t heir movements.
Pockets of conflict continue to flare and peter out throughout Darfur. There are no real signs that the estimated one million displaced persons are getting ready to return to their homes. They continue to live mostly in crowded and unsanitary conditions in camps and towns. Access to clean water and the spread of disease remain top concerns as the rainy season advances.
Terej, in the Zalingei region, is illustrative of the humanitarian situation in many other places in Darfur. Most of the original residents are now living as internally displaced persons in Zalingei, while Terej itself is full of displaced families from the surrounding villages who are either living with relatives, have occupied the houses of the original residents, or have built their own huts. They eke out a living as day labourers, collecting and selling wood, or even working the land of absent residents. The local health dispensary is in a pitiful state.
ICRC highlights of the week
The first ICRC relief convoy reached the Jebel Mun area (Western Darfur), where hundreds of displaced families have been surviving without shelter. The area lies north of Al Geneina, along unmarked roads. Relief supplies are currently being distributed.
The ICRC has taken advantage of every opportunity to call on the parties to the conflict to guarantee the protection of the civilian population in accordance with international humanitarian law. It stresses that the safety of all people, whether displaced persons, returnees or residents, must be guaranteed, and recalls that any return of displaced persons to their homes must take place on a fully volu ntary basis.
The ICRC's relief, medical and water/sanitation programmes in Darfur continue to gather speed. This week a primary health clinic built by the ICRC in Abshok camp treated over a thousand patients, while in Seleya and Terej (Western Darfur), which have seen a high influx of displaced persons, the ICRC has started providing support to the overstretched primary health facilities.
Restoring family links and tracing
The ICRC has so far registered 85 children separated from their families in Darfur and collected 1,422 tracing requests in cooperation with the Sudanese Red Crescent, including 418 for children.
Training sessions were organized this week for Sudanese Red Crescent volunteers in Kebkabiya, in North Darfur.
A Red Cross message helped a mother in Saraf Umra find her child. Preparations are being made to reunite the two.
A batch of drugs delivered this week to Zalingei hospital has made free treatment available for the displaced and the resident population. The hospital’s wards have been equipped with sterile sets, and work is being done to improve the latrines, showers, washbasins and laundries.
The ICRC continued providing support to Kutum hospital, which treated a total of 400 external and 30 internal patients (over half of them children).
Work was completed on a new health centre in Abshok camp. This included the construction of a 250 m2 building, the installation of a 1000-litre water tank and the setting up of a water distribution and drainage system. About 1,400 of the camp’s 45,000 current residents (including 250 children under the age of five) have already been attended at the centre.
The ICRC started providing support to the health post and dispensary in Terej, a settlement of some 7,000 inhabitants in the Zalingei region; health workers have left the area and the dispensary is in dire condition.
Wells and water-supply systems continue to be built and upgraded all over Darfur. El Ryiad camp in El Geneina is now being supplied with 40,000 litres of water a day. In the village of Tana, north of Kebkabiya, a well was rehabilitated and fitted with a 5,000-litre reservoir.
250 tarpaulins were distributed in Andrabi village in Jebel Mun (Western Darfur). Food continues to be distributed to about 2,200 people.
ICRC teams assessed needs in 11 villages around the town of Kass, three of which had not yet been reached by any humanitarian organization.
Preventive action and information
A dissemination session on international humanitarian law was organized for security officers working in Mornei camp.
During its visits to camps, villages and damrats , the ICRC reminded the inhabitants and the authorities of its neutral and impartial mandate.
Cooperation with the National Society
The ICRC continues to work to build the capacity of the Sudanese Red Crescent branch in El Fasher.
The Sudanese Red Crescent national disaster response team will provide support in the Al Geneina area for three months.
The British, Australian, Canadian, Danish and Dutch Red Cross Societies are evaluating their further involvement in water and health projects in Southern and Western Darfur.
The Spanish Red Cross has reinforced its role coordinating humanitarian activities in Abshok, Zamzam, Kassab and Fata Borno camps.
Since the start of the crisis, the ICRC has:
provided basic household items for 295,000 displaced people in 19 locations;
delivered food aid to over 40,000 people in 10 locations;
upgraded and repaired infrastructure in four hospitals with a total capacity of 860 beds, and provided support in the form of drugs, surgical and other medical equipment (ICRC health teams have been posted in two of the hospitals);
launched a basic health care programme for over 134,000 people;
made arrangements for the daily delivery of 1,200,000 litres of water to over 150,000 people in 30 locations (camps and towns);
designed camp layouts (in Abshok and Kassab) for 100,000 displaced persons; arranged for 80,000 people displaced to unsuitable locations to be transported to the completed camps and provided shelter materials to help them settle in;
registered a total of 90 children separated from their families and taken steps to trace 1,422 people.
The influx of Sudanese refugees into eastern Chad seems to have stabilized. However, humanitarian organizations and the regional authorities are increasingly worried about the effects that the settlement of these refugees is having on refugee camps and on the region's natural habitat. In some areas of eastern Chad there are now more refugees than local people, prompting concern about the substantial consumption and premature depletion of the region's already scarce resources, such as water, cattle and firewood.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Red Cross of Chad are cooperating with UNHCR and a number of other NGOs to help relocate a large number of refugees with a view to easing the situation in several overcrowded camps. In the central region of eastern Chad, for instance, thousands of refugees are being moved from Bredjing to the newly-established Treguine camp. Both the International Federation and the Red Cross of Chad are delivering medical aid in the camps.
The ICRC will work to enable refugees in the camps trace family members. It continues to monitor developments closely.
The first two tracing offices have been opened in the northern and southern camps of Oure Cassoni (Bahaï) and Djabal (Goz-Beïda). Approximately 46,000 refugees will now be able to benefit from ICRC family tracing services.
Fourteen Red Cross of Chad volunteers and six refugees have been helping the ICRC set up tracing offices in refugee camps in eastern Chad. These offices will provide services to refugees in an area covering 90,000 square kilometres along the Chad-Sudan border.
Restoring family links
The opening of tracing offices has allowed tracing activities to start in Djabal and Oure Cassoni refugee camps.
Dissemination activities were pursued at Oure Cassoni camp for refugees, camp management personnel and local NGO staff.
For further information please contact:
Carlo Piccinini, ICRC Khartoum, tel. ++249 9 121 377 64
Roland Huguenin-Benjamin, ICRC Khartoum, tel. ++249 121 678 01
for Chad: Yves Heller, ICRC Yaoundé , tel. ++237 222 58 59
Marco Jiménez Rodríguez, Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 22 71