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Zimbabwe: ICRC activities from July to September 2008

21-10-2008 Operational Update

Zimbabwe’s post-election violence has now subsided significantly, but humanitarian needs persist and the ICRC continues to respond. This operational update reports on the ICRC’s activities in Zimbabwe and in the region that the Zimbabwe Regional Delegation covers.



The ICRC has been working in Zimbabwe and southern Africa since the days of the liberation struggles. The task of the Regional Delegation is to promote international humanitarian law (IHL) in Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The organization has continued to protect and assist those most in need, working with the support of the authorities. In 2006, the ICRC began to expand its activities in response to growing hardship in Zimbabwe, launching health and water/sanitation programmes for people in remote rural areas. This assistance has now been extended to the high-density suburbs of the capital Harare, where the majority of the city's residents live. The ICRC also continues to work with the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) to improve the quality and quantity of water that ZINWA provides to Harare and the surrounding communities.

In Namibia, the ICRC continues to visit people detained in connection with the situation there, monitoring their treatment and conditions of detention. The organization continues to support the National Red Cross Societies in the countries it covers, providing funding and technical know-how to assist their tracing, dissemination and disaster-preparedness/response activities.

 Assistance to people affected by violence in Zimbabwe  


The ICRC continued to help people affected by politically motivated violence following the elections in March and June 2008. Between July and September, more than 1,800 people received food rations and essential household items including blankets, kitchen sets and tarpaulins. Since March, the ICRC has assisted more than 5,000 people. The organization continues to monitor the situation and will respond to needs as they arise.

 Supporting health centres in Zimbabwe  


To improve access to health care, the ICRC continued to support 16 rural health posts, three district hospitals, and eight clinics in the high-density suburbs of Harare. Between July and September, the ICRC supplied these 27 facilities with 11 tonnes of essential drugs, basic medical consumables and equipment. The organization also donated approximately 50,000 gloves to Beatrice Infectious Diseases Hospital in Harare.

To increase access to safe water for rural communities in Makoni district, the ICRC installed hand pumps at four health clinics.

The ICRC sponsored ministry of health training activities in the districts where it is working. In the malaria-prone areas of Chivi, Makoni and Tsholotsho districts, 95 nurses received training in malaria case management. In Tsholotsho district, 35 nurses attended a refresher course that covered such topics as infection control, first aid and patient care.

The ICRC distributed emergency medical supplies to six mission hospitals in Mashonaland East province and to Gokwe District Hospital, for the treatment of people injured in post-election violence.

 Promoting international humanitarian law in Zimbabwe  


The ICRC promotes international humanitarian law (IHL) to the national authorities, armed forces, and civil society.

The Regional Delegation:

  • held a “train the trainers” course for 19 instructors from Zimbabwe National Army training establishments;

  • delivered the IHL module of Zimbabwe Defence Forces'Junior Staff Course Number 50 at Zimbabwe Staff College. The module was attended by some 60 officers of the armed forces of Zimbabwe and other SADC countries;

  • organized a two-day IHL module for 64 officer cadets of the Zimbabwe National Army at the Zimbabwe Military Academy;

  • gave two dissemination sessions to 240 trainees of the National Youth Service on humanitarian principles and IHL at two vocational training centres outside Harare;

  • working in collaboration with the SADC Regional Peacekeeping Training Centre (RPTC), organized the second annual workshop on integration of IHL in national defence forces for 14 senior officers from SADC countries;

  • together with the Namibian Red Cross Society, gave a session on the Red Cross and human rights during a training seminar for the Namibian police sponsored by the Finnish Embassy.

 Improving the situation of detainees in Namibia  


The ICRC continued to visit 123 persons detained in Namibian prisons in relation to fighting in the Caprivi strip in 1999. The organization also continued to visit 16 N amibian nationals who are living in Dukwi Refugee Camp in Botswana. Working in cooperation with the Red Cross Societies of Botswana and Namibia, the ICRC arranged for families to visit relatives in custody – the only opportunity they have.

 Restoring family links  


The ICRC continued to re-establish links between people from neighbouring countries affected by war and now living in refugee camps in Zimbabwe. More than 400 Red Cross Messages were exchanged between people in Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

 Cooperation with National Red Cross Societies  


The ICRC helped the Zambian Red Cross Society prepare to provide emergency assistance during the elections due to be held in Zambia.

Working closely with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Zone Office in Johannesburg, South Africa, the ICRC participated in regular meetings of the Southern African Partnership of Red Cross Societies.