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Sudan: medical care, clean water and other reasons for hope

08-01-2009 Operational Update

The situation in Sudan has been relatively stable in recent weeks in comparison with earlier months. Nevertheless, the ICRC has been keeping up its efforts, in Darfur and Southern Sudan especially, to provide support for people adversely affected by the consequences of armed conflict.

New hope for the disabled in Southern Sudan  

An estimated 35,000 disabled people in Southern Sudan, including many war victims, can look forward to vastly improved access to care and support as the region's first-ever physical rehabilitation reference centre starts work in Juba. The facility was officially inaugurated on 4 January in the presence of representatives of the Southern Sudan government.

The ICRC built and equipped the brand-new centre with a total roofed area of 1,200 square metres at a cost of 1.8 million US dollars. The facility, which took over two years to build, is the result of a constructive partnership between the ICRC and the local authorities. It will serve up to 100 patients per month when fully operational.

" Many people in Southern Sudan are physically disabled because of gunshot wounds or other injuries sustained during the decades of war that devastated the region, " explained Patrick Vial, head of the ICRC Sudan delegation. " The centre will improve their access to good-quality prostheses, orthoses, crutches and physiotherapy, which they need to live with dignity. "

Juba Teaching Hospital offering satisfactory care  

An evaluation of the Juba Teaching Hospital concluded that the hospital was providing acceptable and appropriate care for its patients a year after the ICRC withdrew support and handed full management of the hospital to the government of Southern Suda n.

The detailed assessment examined the hospital's management, finances, clinical supervision and teaching, medical care, nursing care, admission facilities, surgical ward, operating theatre, and X-ray and other services.

" We are glad to see that there has been a clear improvement in services at the Juba Teaching Hospital, " said Dr Cleto Chashi, head of the health department at the ICRC delegation in Khartoum. " This proves that our strategy of phasing out assistance was correct. Now the hospital is able to stand on its own and function properly. "

The ICRC handed over full management to the government in December 2007 after the warring parties reached a peaceful settlement to Africa's longest civil war in December 2005.

Restoring the flow of water, the perfect holiday gift for a remote Darfur community  

Wakhaim is a small village situated some 200 kilometres to the north-east of Kutum (North Darfur) on a migration route used by nomads. The village relies on two boreholes for survival. On the eve of Eid Al-Adha, one of the most important Muslim holidays, two submersible water pumps fell into the boreholes, depriving some 5,000 people and 8,000 livestock of their only source of water.

ICRC water specialists setting out from Kutum to respond to the emergency spent four days reaching Wakhaim. Using sophisticated equipment, including a borehole camera, the ICRC staff installed a new pump.

In 2008, ICRC water engineers provided access to water for at least 600,000 people in remote rural areas in Darfur by upgrading hand pumps, hand-dug wells, water yards and other water supply systems. In addition, the organization has been providing about 130,000 displaced people living in Gereida camp with water, sanitation, hygiene promotion and solid-waste management.

Urgent assistance for Chadian villagers fleeing violence  

Three days of violent communal clashes to the south of Birak in eastern Chad forced thousands of civilians to flee their homes in at least nine Chadian villages. According to the latest ICRC figures, some 9,000 refugees from Chad have gathered to the north of Bir Saliba, a Sudanese border village in West Darfur.

ICRC staff based in Abeché (eastern Chad) and Aljeneina (West Darfur) joined efforts to supply sleeping mats, blankets and jerrycans to more than 6,000 victims on both sides of the international border.

Multiplying seed locally in Darfur  

The ICRC has been helping Darfur communities that lost their productive agricultural assets because of conflict to regain their livelihoods by providing them with seed and tools. In 2008, nearly 250,000 farmers were given seed and tools just before the onset of the rainy season. Despite the success of this programme, monitoring of harvests has shown that some varieties of seed imported from outside the region have not adapted well to conditions in Darfur.

The ICRC plans to help restore the local capacity for seed multiplication through a new project involving the Sudanese Ministry of Agriculture and a number of agricultural research centres in Zalingi, Nyala and Alfashir. The ICRC will provide foundation seed, technical assistance and supervision for the centres. It will buy part of the yield at the end of 2009 for distribution i n Darfur.

Lifesaving shots for Darfur children  

Many women and children in the remote town of Fanga Suk in North Darfur had never been vaccinated against major killer diseases such as measles before the ICRC transformed one of the town's buildings into a primary health-care clinic serving 30,000 people.

When it was launched by the ICRC in August 2008, the clinic already provided both curative and ante-natal care. " Some people traveled for up to two days to receive curative care, " said Frances Devlin, an ICRC primary health coordinator.

In December 2008, the clinic expanded its services by offering routine immunization for children 0-5 years of age and vaccination against tetanus for pregnant women. Since there had never before been a clinic or health service in Fanga Suk, most children under one year of age had not previously had the opportunity to be vaccinated.

The ICRC has also been supporting a house-to-house polio campaign across Darfur organized by the Sudanese Ministry of Health. In the Gereida camp for displaced people in South Darfur,Sudanese Red Crescent volunteers have been encouraging parents to have their children immunized.

During 2008, 11 ICRC-supported clinics administered more than 200,000 doses of vaccines in various Darfur localities to protect children under five years of age from disease. The same clinics provided more than 150,000 curative consultations, including 66,000 for women.

Sudanese armed forces to incorporate international humanitarian law in training  

A five-day workshop sponsored by the ICRC was held in Khartoum on incorporatin g the basic principles of international humanitarian law (IHL) into the doctrine, training and operations of the Sudanese armed forces. The participants came from armed forces training colleges and institutes across Sudan. The ICRC maintains a confidential dialogue with SAF commanders in the field on respect for IHL.

For further information, please contact:
  Saleh Dabbakeh, ICRC Sudan, tel. +249 91 213 77 64 or +249 1 83 476 464
  Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 2271 or +41 79 217 32 17