3 April 2012

Sudan: ICRC Continues to Respond to Humanitarian Needs

press release

In recent months, new violence has erupted in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states as large parts of the Darfur region have remained volatile. The ICRC has continued to seek access to all conflict-stricken areas to respond to the effects of the fighting. This is an overview of activities from July 2011 to February 2012.

Blue Nile and South Kordofan have been particularly hard hit by fighting in recent months. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced, some within Sudan while others have sought refuge in neighbouring South Sudan or Ethiopia. The ICRC has repeatedly expressed a willingness to the Sudanese government to expand its activities in the affected areas. "We stand ready to respond in a neutral and impartial manner to the humanitarian needs of the civilian population and those not participating in hostilities," said Pascal Hundt, the head of the ICRC delegation in Sudan.

"In many parts of Darfur the humanitarian situation remains a cause for concern, especially as the severe drought already affecting large parts of the Sahel is likely to have an impact on the nutritional situation of many civilians," said Mr Hundt.

Providing emergency assistance and livelihood support

In an effort to help displaced communities, the ICRC distributed seed and tools to approximately 134,000 people all over Darfur and provided emergency food rations for some 600,000 people in East Jebel Marra. The ICRC also gave such household essentials as blankets, hygiene items and kitchen sets to around 47,500 people, mostly in Darfur and Blue Nile state and usually in cooperation the Sudanese Red Crescent Society. The ICRC also donated 1,000 sets of essential household items to the Sudanese Red Crescent for distribution in Darfur.

The ICRC provided training and equipment for 460 Sudanese Red Crescent volunteers to enhance their capacity to prepare for and respond to emergencies.

In Gereida camp for the displaced in South Darfur, the ICRC handed over a nutritional programme, after almost six years of running it jointly with the Australian and the British Red Cross, to Merlin, a non-governmental humanitarian organization.

Between July and February, over 42,000 people in Darfur benefited from various ICRC projects, including pump irrigation, tractor ploughing and distributions of donkey carts, intended to boost livelihoods.

Access to drinking water for people and livestock

Between July 2011 and February 2012, the ICRC took action to ensure that around 434,000 people in Darfur, Kassala, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states had access to water and to improve health-care facilities in the same states.

During the same period, it repaired 217 hand pumps in Darfur and trained 153 technicians to maintain the pumps. It also provided the technicians with tool kits and spare parts.

The ICRC upgraded 21 water points (17 in Darfur, two in South Kordofan and one each in Blue Nile and Kassala) and provided the water-point operators with training. At Muglad Hospital, the ICRC built two blocks of latrines and showers, and renovated the water supply and sewage systems.

Over one million cattle vaccinated

The ICRC's 2011 livestock vaccination campaign resulted in the vaccination of over a million animals. Livestock were vaccinated in Darfur and South Kordofan to support nomadic communities who depend on their cattle, camels, goats and sheep for their livelihoods.

In the first two months of 2012, a further 80,000 head of animals were vaccinated in rural Garsila, West Darfur, as part of the continuing campaign.

"When our animals are well, we are comfortable - it's like our own health," said Al Tahir Ali, a livestock keeper and vaccinator in the Garsila area. "The hardest time is when animals are dying."

Over the last six months of 2011, the ICRC trained almost 100 community animal-health workers. In January 2012, 21 community animal-health workers participated in a yearly refresher course in Nyala, South Darfur. In February, 22 animal-health auxiliaries also gathered in Nyala for training.

Playing the role of neutral intermediary

At the request of the parties concerned, the ICRC served as a neutral intermediary in the release of five Turkish nationals held by the Justice and Equality Movement in North Darfur and in their handover to a representative of the Turkish embassy in Khartoum. In a similar operation, 29 Chinese workers held by the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement - North in South Kordofan were transferred by the ICRC to Nairobi, Kenya, where they were placed in the care of representatives of the Chinese embassy.

Physical rehabilitation services

The ICRC supports seven rehabilitation centres and one mobile clinic run by Sudan's National Authority of Prosthetics and Orthotics. During the last half of 2011, more than 1,350 patients were fitted with prostheses or orthoses and more than 1,000 were provided with walking devices. The ICRC and the National Authority also provided more than 900 patients with physiotherapy.

Health care for women and children

The ICRC continues to support seven health-care facilities all over Darfur and puts special emphasis on health care for women and children. In the seven clinics, some 48,000 general visits and 11,250 ante-natal visits took place and over 26,000 routine vaccinations for children were given between July 2011 and February 2012. The ICRC is also sponsoring the participation of 27 midwives from North and West Darfur states in a one-year training programme that will end in mid-2012.

In addition, the ICRC helped arrange transportation for 23 patients to specialized surgical facilities in Khartoum. Finally, the ICRC backed the national polio campaign carried out by the Ministry of Health in which more than 127,000 children were vaccinated against the disease in West, North and South Darfur.

Bringing families back together

To help restore and maintain ties between family members dispersed by conflict, the ICRC collects and delivers Red Cross messages (containing brief family news) and makes available telephones so that people can call home.

Between July and December of last year, the ICRC and the Sudanese Red Crescent together collected 3,416 and distributed 3,199 Red Cross messages. In addition, during the conflict in Libya, the two organizations helped Sudanese and other foreign citizens in the border area between Libya and Egypt to contact their relatives.

The ICRC also arranged for six Sudanese adolescents to be repatriated from Chad and reunited with their families.

Promoting international humanitarian law

A joint workshop on spreading knowledge of international humanitarian law held by the Sudanese Red Crescent and the ICRC in October was followed by a train-the-trainers course in December. At these events, in which a Swedish Red Cross delegate took part, the participants were informed about the principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and ICRC activities in Sudan as well as international humanitarian law.

The ICRC continued its dialogue with various audiences to promote their understanding of international humanitarian law and the ICRC's work. Four presentations were held in various places in Darfur during the month of October, one of them in cooperation with the University of Al Fashir. In Khartoum, the ICRC and Khartoum University organized a workshop on the place of international humanitarian law within the curriculum.

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