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Sudan bulletin No. 16, 18 October 2004

18-10-2004 Operational Update

Latest report on ICRC activities in the field


 General situation  

The influx of refugees to eastern Chad appears to have stabilized for the time being. Some 20 people a week are still arriving at Oure Cassoni camp, where access to water continues to be a problem.

The voluntary transfer of refugees from Bredjing to Treguine camp, where the Red Cross of Chad and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are providing the bulk of the services, is proceeding at a rate of 400 people a day. So far, some 4,000 individuals have already been moved.

 Food assessment  

An ICRC team recently assessed the food supply in 20 selected villages in conflict-affected Darfur. It confirmed that most rural communities in Northern, Western and Southern Darfur are facing an acute food crisis.

Insecurity is the root cause of the collapse of agriculture and trade in Darfur. Owing to the violence that has plagued the region since last year, villagers have been able to sow only a third of the usual crops, and looting of seeds, tools and cattle has further worsened the situation. In addition, many migration routes used by nomadic livestock have been blocked by the conflict, preventing them from reaching vast grazing areas and jeopardizing their survival.

Insecurity and rain shortfalls are undermining coping mechanisms that have normally ensured th e survival of the communities living in the region. Households are being forced to draw on their scarce resources to purchase food in the local markets.

The price of basic food staples has risen dramatically. Millet and sorghum, for example, now cost twice or even three times as much as last year. The decrease in production has led to a net loss of income and rampant inflation.

As a consequence, the gathering of wild food such as roots and other plants now accounts for as much as 85% of many families’ food intake. Foraging for such items exposes people to the violence raging outside towns. This has resulted in a vicious circle of fear and hunger.

If violence persists, the relative security and availability of food in camps for the displaced could become more appealing to the resident population than staying put. In an effort to prevent further migration, the ICRC is maintaining its current assistance to the residents of rural areas. By distributing seeds and tools for the next farming season (May-July 2005), the ICRC intends to help communities recover from the destruction suffered over the last year.

Darfur is being strangled by insecurity and restrictions on movement; people risk becoming entirely dependent on humanitarian aid to survive. The ICRC continues to remind all parties to the conflict of their obligation to ensure, as far as possible, freedom of movement for people and goods. Under international humanitarian law, the civilian population must be protected against dangers arising from military operations.

 Health care in Southern Darfur  

The lack of unhindered access to secondary referral centres in Southern Darfur remains a grave concern. A meeting between international NGOs indicated that the situation there has actually deteriorated over the last two months, in some cases owing to restrictions on movement and in others because of a want of medical service providers (Nyala hospital, for example, is currently being refurbished).

Meetings were held with the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization regarding the situation and measures to correct it. For the time being, transport by ICRC aircraft to Zalingei hospital (Western Darfur) seems to be the only solution for the most urgent cases. The first such flight arrived at Zalingei last week.

 Restoring family links  

In Chad, the ICRC sub-offices in the camps of Farshana, Djabal and Goz Amir are now fully operational, bringing to eight the number of camps in the country where the ICRC is present. New ICRC sub-offices should also be up and running by the end of October at Bredjing and Treguine camps.

Over the past week, 203 Red Cross messages were collected and 14 children separated from their parents were registered.


 Dissemination of international humanitarian law  

With ICRC support, the education ministries of Sudan and of Khartoum State organized a five-day seminar on international humanitarian law last week for 70 secondary school teachers. In addition to dealing with basic topics of humanitarian law, the seminar also focused on customary law.


 For further information, please contact:  

 Virginia de la Guardia, ICRC Khartoum, tel. ++249 9 121 377 64  

  Yves Heller, ICRC Yaoundé (for Chad), tel. ++237 222 58 59  

 Marco Jiménez, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 79 217 3217