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Ethiopia: ICRC activities in 2008

30-03-2009 Operational Update

The ICRC continued to assist vulnerable communities affected by armed conflict or violence, often compounded by recurrent natural disasters. It also focused on restoring family links, assisting people detained in Tigray and Afar regions and promoting international humanitarian law.


The ICRC only visited people detained in the Afar and Tigray regions. It continued to enable people to restore and maintain family links through its Red Cross message network, tracing activities and repatriation operations.

 Visits to detainees  

Since its expulsion from the Somali Regional State, the ICRC has reduced its activities to concentrate on helping improve detainees’ living conditions in the Tigray and Afar regions. In 2008, the ICRC conducted 18 visits in eight places of detention in the regions, monitored the conditions of detention of all detainees and followed up on 118 of them individually.

The organization supplied hygiene articles and educational materials, and upgraded water, sanitation and living facilities for some 13,000 detainees in 18 places of detention in six different regions.

 Restoring family links  


The ICRC worked with the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) to carry out its activities aimed at restoring family links. To this purpose the two institutions:

  • delivered 6,394 Red Cross messages in Ethiopia and collected 7, 211;

  • organized three repatriation operations involving 1,766 people, of whom 1,714 left Eritrea for Ethiopia and 52 travelled from Ethiopia to Eritrea;

  • located 96 of the 178 people for whom tracing requests had been received.


 Official documents  

The ICRC relayed 29 official documents from Ethiopia and 41 from Eritrea and issued 124 travel documents to Somali nationals.




Except in the Somali Regional State, the ICRC and the Ethiopian Red Cross delivered relief aid and provided support throughout 2008 to communities affected by recurrent ethnic clashes and past conflicts.


In Tigray, a two-day seminar on war-surgery was organized for 38 health professionals. In the same region, 52 patients were admitted and treated and 54 outpatients were given surgical consultation in the two ICRC-supported hospitals.

 Preserving community livelihoods  


Almost 7,000 families in Afar and Gambella regions benefited from agricultural and veterinary projects of the ICRC. The projects comprised the management and treatment of livestock, training in fodder production and the supply of veterinary drugs.

In the Tigray, Gambella and Afar regions, the ICRC completed a number of water and sanitation projects for the benefit of some 200,000 people. In Afar, the organization set up a pharmacy and trained a person to manage it.

 Physical rehabilitation for the disabled  

The ICRC run six physical rehabilitation centres and extended its support to almost 9,000 people, of whom about 25% were women and 20% children. Around 600 of the people were landmine victims. The centres produced about 2,000 prostheses, 2,900 orthoses and, 5,200 crutches and provided 700 wheelchairs. They also offered physiotherapy.


The organization continued promoting international humanitarian law (IHL) and the ICRC mandate and activities among the authorities, bearers of weapons and different sectors of civil society.


About 500 local authorities participated in 14 sessions on IHL, organized by the ICRC jointly with the ERCS in different regions

 Armed forces and other bearers of weapons  

The ICRC organized a workshop on IHL for over 100 legal advisors of the Ethiopian National Defence Force at the request of the latter. The ICRC briefed over 1, 000 cadets on IHL and rules of conduct in combat.

The organization continued to work in close collaboration with the Ethiopian Police University College. It organized a round table discussion with representatives of the college and 10 regional police training centres to evaluate the level of integration of human rights and humanitarian principles in their curricula.

In regional training centres, the ICRC organized six two-day seminars attended by 250 police officers and 16 instructors. It also organized a two-day session on human rights and good policing for 300 police personnel, 270 rapid reaction force members, 200 prison guards, and 140 civilian militia members.

 Civil society  

In Addis Ababa, the ICRC organized a two-day workshop on IHL and the protection provided for journalists working in conflict areas, attended by 34 journalists and media professionals.

Over 300 elders and community leaders in the regions were briefed about IHL and ICRC activities during sessions organized by the ICRC and ERCS.



The ERCS and the ICRC continued to work together to deliver emergency aid, run the tracing and RCM network, assist in repatriations and promote IHL and the Fundamental Principles throughout the country except the Somali Regional State. The ICRC provided financial support, training, materials, equipment and technical expertise to the ERCS to develop these activities, especially in violence-prone regions. Thanks to the assistance, the ERCS:

  • provided financial support to 25 branches to cover basic expenditure, including administrative and transport costs;

  • provided essential household items and one-month food rations to over 2,000 families affected by armed violence;

  • trained 22 b ranch staff in emergency preparedness and 34 in first-aid for over 2,000 volunteers and 750 detainees;

  • boosted tracing capacities by recruiting officers for three branches, training 154 volunteers and providing three branches with motorbikes;exchanged 14, 431 Red Cross messages and processed 30 tracing requests;

  • broadcast 10 television and 41 radio programmes about the Movement, distributed posters, T-shirts and caps for World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day celebrations;

  • organized 46 IHL sessions, including 17 jointly with the ICRC, in the regions;

  • recruited a regional dissemination officer for the Somalia Regional State;

  • and provided one branch with a new vehicle.