Republic of Guinea: ICRC activities from January to June 2007
23-08-2007 Operational Update
Overview of ICRC field activities: visits to people deprived of their liberty, restoring family links, water and habitat projects, promoting international humanitarian law, and support to the Guinean Red Cross.
The ICRC has been the main partner of the Guinean Red Cross (GRC), collaborating closely and assisting with the organization and provision of health care during the violent incidents that occurred in connection with the strikes in January and February 2007.
Over 700 Guinean Red Cross volunteers and first-aid workers were mobilized throughout the country on that occasion, assisting, providing care for and/or evacuating 1636 injured persons, 683 of whom were suffering from severe firearm wounds. The volunteers also transported the mortal remains of 81 persons to health establishments.
ICRC support focused on funding, first-aid supplies, logistic support systems and communication means as well as on providing staff.
donated 13 first-aid kits and other first-aid items,
provided ICRC vehicles and drivers,
provided 23 VHF radios and donated 515 phone cards.
115 messages about protecting the emblem and human values were broadcast by the national and local radio stations in five vernacular languages;
1200 copies of a special ICRC/GRC newsletter were printed relating the National Society’s activities during the strikes at the beginning of the year;
15 Guinean Red Cross managers attended a workshop on communicating with the media with a view to building up the National Society’s external communication capacities.
The ICRC helped the Guinean Red Cross to extend its radio network and to provide further training and technical support for the officer responsible for the GRC computer services so that the National Society can maintain internal communications in crisis situations.
The ICRC visits people who are being held in places of detention under the authority of the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Security. These visits are carried out on the basis of an agreement signed with the government in 1999 and aim, where necessary, to improve detention conditions and the treatment of detainees, working in cooperation with the competent authorities.
The organization submits its observations and recommendations to the authorities at both the local and the national level in a context of permanent confidential dialogue. It has furthermore been involved in a project since 2004 providing structural support for the Directorate for Prison Administration with a view to enabling that authority to achieve optimum efficiency in its mission of managing the country’s prisons.
carried out 20 visits in 14 places of detention under the authority of the Ministry of Justice and in one place of detention under the authority of the Ministry of Security;
monitored 97 cases individually;
provided nutritional assistance for 369 detainees suffering from malnutrition in five prisons spread across the country;
cooperated with the detaining authorities on the distribution of hygiene kits (soap, bucket, jerrycan), blankets, sleeping mats and recreational items;
launched rehabilitation and sanitation programmes in 14 prisons.
Restoring family links
The need to restore and maintain family links in Guinea has been considerably reduced since political stability in the sub-region has been consolidated, borders have been opened allowing greater freedom of movement, means of communication have developed and UNHCR repatriation activities have continued. The ICRC and the Guinean Red Cross thus now only offer their Red Cross Message (RCM) services to the most vulnerable. The ICRC is continuing to monitor some 40 children who were separated from their families as the result of the past conflicts in the region and to endeavour to trace their parents.
Working together with the Guinean Red Cross, the organization:
collected 60 Red Cross Messages, 26 of which were written by children who had been separated from their families;
distributed 146 Red Cross Messages, 53 of which were addressed to children who had been separated from their families;
located six people in Guinea − three of them children − for whom tracing requests had been filed;
reunited five children with their families in Liberia.
During the strikes in January and February 2007, the ICRC endeavoured to meet the needs of hospitals and clinics, which were unable to cope with the number of people with gunshot wounds, by distributing essential surgical and medical supplies. The hospitals in Conakry, Nzérékoré, Boké and Kankan were the main beneficiaries. A health delegate was also dispatched to back up this support for medical establishments. The following items were donated:
surgical supplies for in-hospital care for at least 100 patients with gunshot wounds;
four first-aid kits for treating 50 wounded;
120 litres of fuel for ambulances.
A full assessment was made of the accommodation capacity and emergency care facilities of the country’s main hospitals in the event of mass admissions with a view to drawing up a new programme of support for health structures, which makes provision for the allocation of essential equipment, a scheme for training the staff of ten health establishments in trauma surgery, post-operative care, and nursing care, and a training course for stretcher-bearers.
Water, sanitation and habitat
In order to guarantee a stable supply of drinking water throughout the country despite the crisis at the beginning of the year, the ICRC supported the Guinean water board with a donation of 112 tons of water-treatment chemicals − a 3-month supply.
The organization launched a rehabilitation and sanitation scheme in eight establishments in the context of the programme of medical support for health structures. It also undertook to rehabilitate the Kankan and Labé water treatment plants in order to improve the water supply for hospitals and the population in general.
The ICRC endeavours to disseminate international humanitarian law (IHL) in academic circles as well as in the armed forces and the security forces. The organization supports the authorities in their efforts to implement IHL and takes part in the measures to raise awareness and disseminate fundamental IHL rules amongst arms bearers (Guinean army, gendarmerie and police force).
The ICRC organized the third inter-university competition on international humanit arian law, in which three universities − Kankan, Kofi-Annan and Sonfonia − took part.