Colombia: ICRC activities from April to June 2009
16-09-2009 Operational Update
The armed conflict in Colombia is having a major impact on public health. Attacks on medical personnel are hindering community access to basic health services, and many of those injured are not receiving effective and appropriate medical attention. In response to these concerns, in April the ICRC took part in the first national seminar on the delivery of medical services in wartime.
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During the seminar – organized by the ICRC in cooperation with the Ministry for Social Protection, the Presidential Programme for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, and the Colombian Red Cross – attention was drawn to the importance of ensuring respect for medical staff. Participants were given information on obligations, rights and security norms relating to medical activity in armed conflicts. Workshops were also held for surgeons, prosthetists, doctors and nurses.
Between April and June, the ICRC continued to provide financial aid for displaced persons and residents of areas affected by the fighting, in order to enable them to receive health care.
ICRC delegates delivered and collected 30 Red Cross messages (brief personal messages to relatives). They also continued to visit people deprived of their freedom in connection with the armed conflict and to assess their conditions of detention.
In the second quarter of 2009, around 15,000 people received aid in Colombia. The ICRC has offices in 11 cities throughout the country and has signed cooperation agreements with six branches of the Colombian Red Cross.
As part of 19 agricult ural projects aimed at maintaining or restoring the livelihoods of families affected by the armed conflict, the ICRC set up market gardens and poultry-raising activities in secondary schools. The organization also encouraged the cultivation of maize, bean and potato crops amongst 60 families and promoted the cultivation of additional short-cycle crops for another 48 families. Furthermore, the ICRC held 43 workshops on farming techniques for the communities involved in these projects.
In the departments of Meta, Arauca, Cauca, Tolima and Caquetá, the ICRC built, repaired and renovated the sanitation facilities and plumbing of various schools, and donated materials for their refurbishment.
As part of its assistance for civilians affected by the armed conflict, the ICRC set up a range of basic infrastructure projects in remote rural communities and in cities where displaced people had sought refuge.
In the second quarter of 2009, thanks to the operational partnership between the ICRC and the Colombian Red Cross, workshops were held on safe behaviour in areas contaminated by landmines, on community-based first aid and on the preliminary treatment of war wounds.
The ICRC organized courses on armed conflict and international humanitarian law for journalists in the city of Popayán, with the support of the University of Cauca, the Cauca branch of the Colombian Red Cross and the newspaper La Patria. It organized similar courses in the city of Manizales, in cooperation with the Caldas branch of the Colombian R ed Cross.