Sudan bulletin No. 10 – 3 September 2004
03-09-2004 Operational Update
Latest report on ICRC activities in the field
©ICRC/Thierry Gassmann/ref. sd-e-00037
Continuous fighting throughout Darfur sparked the displacement of thousands of civilians towards urban centers. Several people were wounded.
Travel formalities for humanitarian workers have been simplified, meaning that the ICRC is able to move about freely, as far as weather conditions permit. There was less rain than in previous weeks, raising hopes that previously inaccessible communities in Western Darfur, such as Abata, north of Zalingei, could soon be reached.
After the abduction and subsequent release of humanitarian workers, including 3 volunteers from the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) conditions for humanitarian work in Darfur are deteriorating. The ICRC is calling on all parties to the c onflict to respect humanitarian workers and to let them move about freely to assist the victims of the conflict in all areas of Darfur.
On 29 August, there was a tragic car accident in Nyala, in which three colleagues from the SRCS were killed and five injured, including the Secretary General. The ICRC offered what support it could, evacuating the seriously injured to Khartoum.
As in previous weeks, the ICRC strove to increase its coverage of the remoter areas of Darfur that have not yet been visited by humanitarian organizations or received other forms of external assistance. It is estimated that up to a quarter of those still living in Darfur's villages are extremely vulnerable and in urgent need of aid.
As part of this effort, joint ICRC-SRCS teams visited the surroundings of Kass and Gereida in Southern Darfur, Korma town and environs, and rural areas north and south of Kutum in Northern Darfur.
The ICRC has now consolidated its activities in the area south of Zalingei in Western Darfur, and in Jebel Marrah where ICRC health specialists and water and sanitation engineers delivered some first assistance and identified further needs. The area has a population of some 200,000.
The ICRC has decided to increase its food assistance substantially between now and the end of the year, in particular in rural areas. On 25 August a major airlift from Geneva was launched, supplementing flights currently leaving Nairobi twice weekly, to deliver aid and logistics equipment for operations in Sudan. During six trips departing from Geneva airport and two from Nairobi over a ten-day period, an Antonov 124 is transporting 55 trucks, 27 four-wheel-drive vehicles, 10 tent hangars, medical equipment, medicines, water and fuel tanks, spare parts, tyres and other supplies weighing a total of 720 tonnes. A significant contribution to this cargo has come from the Norwegian Red Cross. The first two convoys transporting the equipment and additional supplies set off on 27 August and 1 September respectively on a ten-day journey over difficult terrain to the three Darfuri state capitals. This new material is vital to improve ICRC access to thousands of people still deprived of urgently needed humanitarian aid and to deliver further supplies to meet health and water needs.
©ICRC/Thierry Gassmann/ref. sd-e-00030
Field visits to rural areas of Southern Darfur over the last weeks confirmed that security is still the main concern both for displaced people and those who stayed behind in villages and damrats (Arab settlements). Many say they do not dare go out of the towns or camps to collect firewood and wild food. They have lost most or all their possessions, and are generally being housed by the community or with relatives, who are also providing them with food. This puts a huge strain on local resources. The displaced are suffering from health problems linked to the move from their home villages, which are exacerbated by shortages of food and clean drinking water. In some areas, SRCS volunteers are covering first-aid needs in small hospitals, while the community has provided extra beds. As resources in these communities continue to dwindle, the ICRC is prepa ring to distribute food and basic household items in the coming days.
Visits to the rural surroundings of Kutum and Korma in Northern Darfur yielded similar findings. Many villages were caught up in the hostilities after last year's harvest, and people fled their homes for some weeks if not months. Their food stocks and most of their animals were looted. Now, many homes have been rebuilt and some planting was done in June, although considerably less than in other years, and some coping mechanisms have been found, for instance, gathering firewood and grass and selling it at the local market. People are resorting to selling their belongings, including their animals, thus sinking further into the spiral of poverty. To try and combat this, the ICRC is planning a series of large-scale food distributions.
The ICRC continued to call on the parties to the conflict immediately and effectively to restore the protection to which the civilian population is entitled under international humanitarian law. It stressed that the safety of all people, whether displaced persons, returnees or residents, must be guaranteed, and that displaced persons must be allowed to return to their homes on a strictly voluntary basis.
Restoring family links and tracing
Red Cross messages collected from Sudanese refugees in Chad were received for distribution to their families in Darfur.
Over 13,000 people in the Shangil Tobaya area of Northern Darfur were provided with tarpaulins, blankets, soap, kitchen sets and buckets.
47 tonnes of food (sorghum, beans, oil and salt) were provided to 1,740 people in three communities around Seleia.
The ICRC donated beds, dressing materials and medicines to Al Gereida hospital, to help it cope with an influx of wounded from the recent outbreak of fighting in the area. Longer-term support for Al Gereida hospital is being formalized with the ministry of health. Activities will centre on the provision of primary health care to the IDP and host community and ad hoc support for the hospital.
Around 1,000 patients received free medical care in the ICRC-supported Zalingei hospital this week. Nine major surgical operations were carried out and training of local staff continued. Construction and repair work progressed.
The ICRC-supported hospital in Kutum treated 21 inpatients and 316 outpatients.
An ICRC health team made several visits to Terej, where the primary health centre recently reopened with ICRC support. The community health worker, who is also receiving further training, saw 1,000 patients over the past two weeks, including people who had travelled to the town from rural areas. A memorandum of understanding regarding health support for Abata and Terej was signed with the authorities in Al Geneina.
During the extended field trip to the Jebel Marrah region, the ICRC treated health emergencies on the spot and provided medicines to combat an outbreak of measles. In Golo, it repaired the main water supply station, which now provides safe drinking water free of charge for 20,000 people. Maintenance was carried out on three hand-pumps.
In Al Fashir, the water-supply project in the Dinka neighbourhood was completed. Some 20,000 residents and IDPs are now served through a borehole fitted with an electric submersible pump, a 70m3 storage tank and several distribution points.
Construction of wells continued for Kabkabia hospital and Shatti IDP camp and in Kassab camp near Kutum.
Work progressed to extend Hasha-Issa IDP camp for a further 30,000 people, to enable them to move there as soon as possible from overcrowded Zalingei town centre.
Preventive action and information
A dissemination session on international humanitarian law and the ICRC was conducted with the newly arrived police force in Kassab camp in Northern Darfur. Informal briefings on the ICRC were organized with the commanders of armed opposition groups during field trips from Kutum.
Seven sessions were also conducted in Al Geneina for 43 officers from the Sudanese armed forces, 77 police officers, 30 officials from the Security and Social Affairs Ministry, 25 SRCS volunteers and 5 local staff working for different international organizations.
Cooperation with the Sudanese Red Crescent and other Movement partners
Volunteers from the SRCS played an active and vital role in all field trips, assessments and distributions carried out by the ICRC during the week.
The Secretary General of the SRCS visited Nyala to follow up coordination issues with the Saudi and other Red Crescent Societies providing relief material for Darfur.
A high-level delegation of the Saudi Red Crescent, including its President, visited Darfur and has started to launch support activities for conflict victims in the fields of health and material support.
The German Red Cross continues to provide vital health care in two health centres in Al Fashir. About 200 patients a day consult the GRC medical staff.
The Spanish Red Cross is coordinating humanitarian activities in Abushok, Fata Borno, Kassab and Zamzam IDP camps in Northern Darfur and continues to install water supply services in these camps
Discussions began with the Netherlands Red Cross Society about possible new support for operations in Darfur.
- provided basic household items for 311,920 displaced people in 21 locations.
- delivered food aid to 53,468 people in 18 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 programme to provide basic health care for over 134,000 people through support for 16 permanent health facilities and four mobile clinics.
- supported Nyala orthopaedic centre, which has manufactured and delivered 74 prosthesis for 72 patients and 27 orthoses for 22 patients since it opened in May 2004; made arrangements for the daily delivery of an additional 1,300,000 litres of water, above and beyond previously existing resources, for over 180,000 people in 30 locations (camps and towns).
- designed camp layouts (Abushok, Kassab and Hasha-Issa) for 120,000 displaced people and provided shelter materials to 80,000 people to help them settle in.
- registered 90 children separated from their families in Darfur and collected tracing requests for 1,731 missing persons related to Darfur, including 727 children.
Between 100 and 300 refugees are now arriving spontaneously each day at the Bredjing camp. An estimated 56,000 people are now in the camp of whom some 16,000 have arrived spontaneously. OXFAM and in particular the WFP are providing the camp with food and water. At Oure Cassoni, the Chadian national commission for aid to refugees (CNAR) is registering up to 1,000 refugees a week arriving by their own means. Tregine camp is still being developed and Farchana camp is undergoing work that will allow it to receive an extra 10,000 refugees. An epidemic, probably of hepatitis E, has been reported in Goz Amer. With the exception of Oure Cassoni, all the camps are at maximum capacity. The UNH CR has relocated 223 refugees from Birak, Senet, Fuguera and Djerabit to Kounoungou.
The refugee camps of Oure Cassoni, Djabal and Goz Amer already have fully operational ICRC tracing offices. A tracing office in Farchana will be opened in the coming days.
Restoring family links
In Oure Cassoni, Djabal and Goz Amer camps 77 Red Cross messages were collected and are on their way to recipients. Eleven tracing processes were started on behalf of unaccompanied children and 47 forms filled out. ICRC staff registered one unaccompanied child and one child separated from its family.
The ICRC is continuing its visits to places of detention at Goz Beida, Adé and Adré.
Dissemination sessions involving 1,500 people were organized in the camps to explain ICRC activities to restore family links.
For further information please contact:
Carlo Piccinini, ICRC Khartoum, tel. ++249 9 121 377 64
for Chad: Yves Heller, ICRC Yaoundé , tel. ++237 222 58 59
Ian Piper, Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 20 63