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Posts Tagged ‘ICRC’

Humanitarian situation deteriorates in Juba after coup attempt

Posted by African Press International on December 18, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 17, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/– Armed clashes in Juba since 15 December have left hundreds in urgent need of medical care. Thousands of civilians, including women and children, have fled their homes in search of safety, taking very little with them. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is providing the city’s two major hospitals with support so that they can cope with the heavy influx of patients.

More than 300 people have been admitted to Juba Teaching Hospital and Juba Military Hospital over the past two days. The ICRC and the South Sudan Red Cross have delivered to the hospitals enough wound-dressing materials and other urgently needed medical supplies to treat up to 500 people.

“We know there are more people who need care, but they are having difficulty reaching health-care facilities because of the security situation and the lack of available transportation,” said Felicity Gapes, an ICRC delegate who is leading the medical response on the ground. “Staff in both hospitals have been working around the clock, but they are struggling because of the sheer volume of patients and the severity of the injuries.”

The ICRC is calling on the fighting parties to take all feasible precautions to minimize civilian casualties and to allow people to safely reach health-care facilities. The organization is closely monitoring needs. Together with the South Sudan Red Cross, it will take further action as the security situation permits.


International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)


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Humanitarian aid still needed in east of country: DRC

Posted by African Press International on December 3, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 2, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ With the end of fighting between the armed forces and M23 in Rutshuru, displaced people are returning home. The ICRC and the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are carrying on with their humanitarian work in the east of the country.

“Recent events in Rutshuru should not cause us to overlook the fact that the humanitarian and security situation remains difficult in other territories in the east of the country,” said Alessandra Ménegon, head of the ICRC delegation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “The people there are still facing serious problems arising from violence and the lack of health care, clean water and food.”

In Rutshuru, groups of displaced people have been returning to their home villages since fighting ended. Several hundred members of M23 have turned themselves in or been captured. “We are visiting former fighters and civilians arrested in connection with the recent fighting, and the places where they are gathered or detained,” said Rachel Bernhard, head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Goma.

The aim of the ICRC’s visits is to assess the conditions in which people are being held and to ensure that they are being treated humanely and with dignity, in accordance with applicable rules and standards.

Unexploded munitions a danger for the population

“People are trying to get back to living normal lives, so they’re going to be working in the fields, but it’s very risky because of the explosive hazards that remain,” said Ms Bernhard.

To help prevent accidents involving explosive devices, radio messages warning of the danger are being broadcast by the Congolese Red Cross and the ICRC.

The recent improvement in security conditions made it possible to reunite almost 40 children who had been living in shelters in Goma with their families in mid-November. “My granddaughter is coming home today,” said Augustine. “I was afraid I would never see her again.” Since the beginning of October, 125 children have been returned to their families through the joint efforts of the ICRC and the Congolese Red Cross.

Improved health-care facilities in South Kivu

In territories other than Rutshuru in the east of the country, fighting involving many armed groups is causing great suffering for civilians. In South Kivu, an ICRC surgical team has performed 44 operations on war-wounded patients in the provincial referral hospital of Bukavu since the beginning of October.

“We’re upgrading the infrastructure in this hospital, and building a new health-care centre in Ramba, in Kalehe territory,” said Catherine de Patoul, in charge of ICRC medical programmes in North and South Kivu. A gynaecology unit is being fitted out in Walungu hospital. Medicines are being distributed and training provided in four rural hospitals and three health-care centres. In addition, support is being maintained for 40 counselling centres (“maisons d’écoute”) in the Kivus that accommodate victims of sexual assault and other violence-related trauma.

Following violent clashes between armed groups over the past few weeks, kitchen utensils, tarpaulins, blankets, sleeping mats and baskets have been distributed to some 35,000 people displaced from the south of Masisi who are now in the highlands of Kalehe and Ziralo in South Kivu.

In north-central Katanga province, a distribution of basic necessities has been slowed because of the security situation. Nevertheless, 1,900 people currently displaced in the villages of Paza and Kalwala, in Manono territory, received tarpaulins, sleeping mats, blankets, kitchen utensils, buckets, soap, hoes, plastic drums and hygiene products.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, since the beginning of October the ICRC has also:

•    continued to visit people held in civilian and military places of detention in connection with armed conflict, distributing food in five prisons and medicines in 19 prison clinics;

•    continued working to improve the water distribution network of the city of Goma, in particular by opening two new pumping stations that will ultimately provide the city’s 500,000 inhabitants with clean drinking water;

•    continued water catchment and supply programmes for more than 85,000 people living in rural areas in the territories of Walikale, Masisi and Rushuru, in North Kivu province;

•    continued fish farm projects in North and South Kivu for almost 4,000 people, and agricultural projects involving the distribution of healthy cassava cuttings, soybean, maize and beans with the aim of promoting the economic recovery of people displaced by conflict or returning home;

•    reunited 125 children with their families by working together with the Congolese Red Cross in Equator, Western and Eastern Kasai, Katanga, North and South Kivu and Eastern provinces.



International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)


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Humanitarian assistance for over a million people

Posted by African Press International on November 19, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 14, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – People are suffering the effects of intercommunal violence over natural resources and land in Darfur, and of occasional fighting between government forces and armed opposition groups. So far this year, the ICRC has helped over a million people.

“We’ve scaled up our emergency response because of rising violence in Darfur, where people face increased hardship,” said Jean-Christophe Sandoz, head of the ICRC delegation in Sudan. “We’ve brought vital assistance to violence-affected areas.”

The ICRC and the Sudanese Red Crescent Society have been working hard to deliver relief rapidly. Intercommunal clashes in Jebel Amer, North Darfur state, caused thousands to flee in January and February. The two organizations jointly distributed 1,600 tonnes of food, blankets, jerrycans, tarpaulins, sleeping mats, clothes, buckets, soap and kitchen utensils to over 124,000 people, both the displaced and their host communities. As people wounded in Jebel Amer reached hospitals in Al Sireaf, Saraf Omra, Al Junaina and Al Fashir, the ICRC provided the hospitals with medical supplies. It also facilitated the evacuation by helicopter of 33 casualties from Al Sireaf to Al Fashir for treatment in the Ministry of Health hospital.

The ICRC worked with the Sudanese Red Crescent to help people in the flood-stricken Nile Valley, where thousands were left homeless in August. The two organizations distributed household and shelter items to over 30,000 people in Khartoum and Blue Nile states, in the Dongola region, and in Mereo and Wadi Halfa in Northern state. An emergency water system for 5,800 people was set up in Al Gezera state, and 10 hand pumps were installed to supply drinking water for the population of Jebel Awliya, south of Khartoum.

Darfur has seen not only increased violence but also a surge in crime. In August, unknown armed men seized eight ICRC staff in central Darfur. While they were all released within two weeks, their two trucks have still not been recovered. “Incidents like this have an effect on the humanitarian work we do for people who are suffering,” said Mr Sandoz. “We are grateful to the government authorities, and the tribal and community leaders who helped bring about the release of our colleagues.”

While Darfur remained the focus of the ICRC’s action, access to conflict-stricken areas of Blue Nile and South Kordofan states remains pending. “We have offered to carry out an impartial assessment of the needs in these areas, and to provide relief to the people most severely affected,” said Mr Sandoz. “So far, however, we have not been granted access there”.

Despite the challenges, the ICRC has spared no effort to help people in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan. Highlighted below is some of the work we did between January and September.

Emergency aid for people suffering the effects of violence


•    supplied household and shelter items for over 129,000 people displaced by violence, including 111,000 from Jebel Amer;

•    delivered enough medical supplies to 19 hospitals in Darfur, South Kordofan and Khartoum for them to perform 5,100 operations and treat 1,350 casualties;

•    provided essential drugs, medical supplies and furniture for the health centre in Garra Za Wia, Jebel Amer, which serves a population of 8,000;

•    repaired 38 hand pumps, upgraded a water point and installed six water tanks for the use of over 24,000 people in areas where displaced people from Jebel Amer had gathered;

•    trained 80 Red Crescent volunteers in first aid.

Helping people fend for themselves

•    With the onset of rains in July, around 460,000 people (mainly in and around the Jebel Marra area) received farming tools, plus groundnut, sorghum and vegetable seed. Another 16,575 families received farming tools only.

•    Over 15,600 families received donkey ploughs.

•    The ICRC distributed over 4,000 tonnes of food to help people cope with a food shortage and enable them to set aside seed for planting.

Improving access to water


•    repaired 327 hand pumps, 33 water points and four wells, maintaining a reliable water supply for over 473,000 people;

•    trained 92 technicians in hand-pump maintenance, ensuring that communities would continue to have water.

Providing health care

The ICRC supports seven health centres that serve 138,000 people in Central and South Darfur states.

Between January and September:

•    health-centre staff saw over 49,300 patients, including 7,450 expectant mothers, and performed 26,400 childhood vaccinations;

•    the ICRC provided logistical support for Ministry of Health immunization campaigns that resulted in the vaccination of over 101,300 people, including children under five;

•    when September’s protests against the withdrawal of fuel subsidies resulted in numerous casualties, the ICRC provided hospitals in Khartoum with enough intravenous fluids, bandages and other medical supplies to treat over 150 people;

•    the ICRC sponsored the training of 44 midwifery students from villages in Darfur, to reduce deaths among mothers and children.

Supporting physical rehabilitation services

Almost 5,000 people received prosthetic or orthotic devices, crutches or physiotherapy from six ICRC-supported physical rehabilitation centres, a mobile workshop run by the National Authority for Prosthetics and Orthotics, and the Khartoum Cheshire Home centre for the rehabilitation of disabled children.

Vaccinating animals

•    The ICRC and the State Ministries of Animal Resources and Fisheries vaccinated over 860,000 animals belonging to more than 17,000 (mainly nomadic) families in Darfur.

•    A hundred animal-health workers received training in such skills as disease reporting and animal vaccination. Their services are expected to benefit more than 14,600 families.

•    Facilitating the release of detainees

The ICRC is often called upon to serve as a neutral intermediary when government or armed opposition groups release soldiers or civilians.

Between January and September:

•    five South Sudanese prisoners of war were repatriated following their release by the Sudanese authorities;

•    a total of 35 civilians and 27 Sudanese armed forces personnel held by armed opposition groups in Darfur were transferred home;

•    ICRC staff visited detainees held in Jebel Marra by the Sudan Liberation Army – Abdel Wahid faction.

Restoring contact between family members

Between January and September, the ICRC and the Sudanese Red Crescent:

collected and delivered nearly 8,400 Red Cross messages and organized over 800 telephone calls between members of dispersed families;

clarified the whereabouts of dozens of people reported by their families as missing or captured in connection with conflict, and received 437 new tracing requests. In addition, the ICRC and the Sudanese Red Crescent reunited a child found in South Sudan with his family in Sudan.

The ICRC has been working in Sudan since 1978. In 2003, it extended its operations to Darfur, where we are helping people suffering the effects of armed conflict and other violence.



International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)


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Discussing possible collaboration

Posted by African Press International on November 18, 2013

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, November 14, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Côte d’Ivoire and Head of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), Mrs Aïchatou Mindaoudou, on Wednesday, 13 November 2013, met with the head of a delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Georges Comminos.

Georges Comminos, who came to present the activities of the ICRC in Côte d’Ivoire, said he highlighted the areas in which the two organisations complement each other and the possibility of collaboration.

«The ICRC is an organisation independent of the United Nations. However there are areas, especially in terms of humanitarian action, for which we discussed developing responses for the communities living in Côte d’Ivoire. In prisons for instance where ICRC is very active and in the west of the country, where we have a number of humanitarian programmes, it is important to see how we can collaborate and draw up strategies complementary to the work of UN agencies and UNOCI in order to attain our objectives, » explained Mr. Comminos.

The head of the regional delegation of the ICRC said he was satisfied with the discussions and in general, the level of cooperation between ICRC and UNOCI and with the different humanitarian agencies of the United Nations.



Mission of UN in Côte d’Ivoire


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Armed group releases five soldiers

Posted by African Press International on November 7, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Five Sudanese soldiers held in Darfur were released today by the Sudan Liberation Army – Ali Karbino (SLA-AK), an armed opposition group. The International Committee of the Red Cross facilitated the operation in its capacity as a neutral intermediary.

“The Sudanese authorities and the SLA-AK asked us to facilitate the transfer and provide logistical support for this operation,” said Jean-Christophe Sandoz, head of the ICRC delegation in Sudan. The regular dialogue the ICRC maintains with the government authorities and various armed opposition groups allows it to play its unique role as a neutral intermediary.

ICRC delegates accompanied the released soldiers as a helicopter flew them to Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, where they were placed in the care of the Sudanese authorities. Prior to the transfer, the delegates spoke privately with the soldiers to make sure they were being transferred of their own free will.

Similar operations in Sudan this year involving the ICRC have resulted in the transfer of five South Sudanese prisoners of war released by the Sudanese government and of 32 Sudanese armed forces personnel and 36 civilians released by armed opposition groups.

The ICRC has been working in Sudan since 1978. In 2003 it extended its operations to Darfur, where it helps people suffering the effects of armed conflict and other violence.



International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)


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Loosing all hope – a wish to commit suicide

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2013

– When Uganda resident  Rose Lamwaka had two sons abducted by the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) 10 years ago she felt she had lost all hope. “I w as feeling a lot of pain, I was feeling like committing suicide,” says the 51-year-old widow with seven grandchildren.

Last week, Lamwaka joined hundreds from the northern district of Lamwo to remember their abducted children, still missing from the decades-long civil war between the LRA and the government. More than 200 family members with relatives still unaccounted for read the names of their lost ones in a ceremony of prayer and song.

Northern Uganda was the epicentre of a legacy of violence, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says the number of people abducted since the war started in the late 1980s ranges between 52,000 and 75,000. Though Uganda has been free from LRA attacks since 2006, and a number of former child soldiers have returned, the ICRC estimates thousands remain missing from the north as a result of the conflict.

“Because there is no official figure of those missing, we had to extrapolate on what we found here,” said Camilla Matteucci, ICRC protection coordinator. “And our projection is that at least 10,000 people are still missing in northern Uganda.”

Left behind

The commemoration in Uganda not only acknowledged those still missing but also marked the end of a four-month community counselling pilot programme for more than 200 affected family members of the abducted in Lamwo District. As that project initially targeted only one sub-county, it used those affected families as a baseline to extrapolate the total number that have gone missing across the northern region.

According to Beatrice Ocaya, the local women’s councillor in Lamwo, the ceremony was an important step in recognizing the ongoing support needed by families torn apart by the LRA conflict.

“There is no longer war, but some parents are ever crying,” she said.

ICRC says relatives left behind have been silently suffering with ambiguous loss, and the isolation that breeds has far-reaching social and economic impacts on populations still recovering from conflict.

“They don’t know if the person is alive or dead, if they’re still with the armed group, which also puts a stigma on the family, and therefore it’s hard for them to deal with the community at large,” Matteucci said.

For Lamwaka, the group brought her relief, and support from her community. “Other people are really understanding, they sympathize and care,” she told IRIN.

A global loss

To mark the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances on 30 August, the ICRC has released a handbook to call for a broader global response to the families of those missing in conflict and natural disasters. The handbook draws on more than 10 years of similar ICRC projects, from the Balkans, to Nepal and Timor-Leste – all countries where thousands have gone missing with families left behind to bear the burden – and provides an understanding of what families of missing persons go through. It also acts as a practical guide for local “accompaniers” from the community, trained by ICRC to counsel peer support groups to be able to share experiences and coping mechanisms.

“Every year, hundreds of thousands of people are separated from loved ones in such situations,” said Marianne Pecassou, head of the ICRC team dealing with missing persons, in a statement. “The families will tell you that what they need more than anything else is to find out what happened to the person who vanished. Unfortunately, in too many cases, that question may never be resolved. But they also have other needs that go far beyond this.”

According to ICRC, during the conflicts in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, they received more than 34,000 tracing requests from families searching for answers.

Legal issues such as inheritance and property rights, the financial stress of searching for the lost while supporting a household, as well as the psychological trauma of loss have devastated communities already scarred by conflict.

According to Milena Osorio, ICRC’s mental health and psychosocial support adviser, psychological needs such as emotional isolation, feelings of guilt, anger, depression or trauma, and tensions among family members or with members of their communities are common.

“The families of missing people frequently find themselves grappling with uncertainty. Most societies have religious or cultural rituals to deal with death,” said Ms Osorio in the statement, “but there is very little to help the families of missing persons.”

In May, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged member states to join an international treaty aimed at “eliminating enforced disappearances and stop impunity for this scourge”.

pc/kr/cb source



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Norway condemns attack on Red Cross in Afghanistan

Posted by African Press International on June 6, 2013

The local office of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Jalalabad was attacked on 29 May by unidentified armed men. An Afghan guard was killed and one expatriate staff member was slightly injured in the attack.

“We condemn the attack in the strongest possible terms. The ICRC has had a presence in Afghanistan since 1987 and has worked to assist and protect the civilian population. Attacks on humanitarian aid workers have widespread repercussions for the conflict-affected population and they are completely unacceptable,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

“It is essential to grasp every opportunity to promote respect for humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law vis-à-vis all parties to the conflict,” Mr Eide said.

Norway has just hosted an international conference aimed at strengthening the protection of civilians and respect for international humanitarian law. This attack shows how crucial it is to continue these efforts.





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