Sudan Bulletin No. 35
27 October 2005
Release of 176 detainees
On 18 October the ICRC facilitated the release and transfer home of 176 detainees held by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in eastern Sudan. The men, captured over five years ago, were taken from their places of detention by the ICRC, with the assistance of the Kassala branch of the Sudanese Red Crescent, and handed over to the authorities in Khartoum. They received clothes and financial assistance before being sent home. The timing of the release, during the holy month of Ramadan, was particularly significant for the former detainees as it will enable them to celebrate Eid, the end of Ramadan, with their families in early November.
Escalation of violence in Darfur
The ICRC remains deeply concerned about the recent upsurge in violence in all three Darfuri states. Clashes between the parties to the conflict, tribal violence linked to cattle looting and access to grazing pastures, and increasing banditry have resulted in the death of scores of civilians and combatants, with hundreds more wounded, and displaced thousands of civilians who have had to take refuge in already overcrowded camps.
The escalating violence is a threat to the much-anticipated November harvest and has further hampered the seasonal migration of livestock. This could have disastrous consequences for the recovery efforts of the last 18 months – including an extensive ICRC agricultural assistance programme aimed at supporting farmers and boosting food production in northern Darfur – and intensify the cycle of dependency on humanitarian aid unless all parties to the conflict exercise restraint in the use of force.
The recent abduction and killing of ceasefire monitors from the African Union peace-support operation is symptomatic of the growing risks faced by peace-keepers and aid workers alike and has led to a temporary but significant decrease in the movements of most organizations.
The recent events in the Kalma camp for internally displaced people near Nyala, in southern Darfur, reflect yet another aspect of the growing violence. For several hours, an angry and frustrated mob detained patients, medical personnel and aid workers in a clinic set up on Sudanese Red Crescent premises.
While the ICRC has maintained its presence throughout Darfur, it had to suspend its operations in certain conflict-ridden areas for three weeks as the risks were deemed too high. Its operations have now fully resumed, with the exception of those in two areas in the west (the Al-Geneina/Habila/Mornei triangle and Jebel Mun to the north of Seleia) that are still hampered by growing political and tribal tensions. Although the ICRC continues to enjoy security guarantees from all the parties, one of its field teams was attacked twice by bandits south of Al-Geneina and robbed of cash and valuable items.
Field surgical team
The ICRC has deployed its field surgical team seven times in the last two weeks, assisting over 30 people, all of whom had suffered weapon wounds. The team operated in Saraf Omra (border between western and northern Darfur), Korma, Kutum, Bir Mesa and Mysteria (northern Darfur) and Muhajaria (southern Darfur) – all areas beyond the reach of regular medical services.
Water supply for Al-Fashir
The torrential rains registered last August in Al-Fashir, in northern Darfur, a city with a population of nearly 400,000, resulted in heavy flooding that caused extensive damage to property and infrastructure, vastly reducing the city's water supply.
The main pipeline from the Golo river, which ordinarily delivers over 60 per cent of the city's water supply, was destroyed when the riverbanks collapsed, leaving over half the local population without water.
The second source of water, which provides the rest of the city's supply, is pumped from a muddy pond and is of poor quality. This water is now being treated by chlorination.
At the request of the State Water Corporation (SWC), the ICRC helped repair the Golo river pipeline. In cooperation with SWC technicians, it shored up the riverbanks in order to protect the pipeline and prevent further erosion around it. The ICRC also built two new piers and installed a stanchion for the pipeline, restoring the city's regular water supply.
Assessment of food needs in Darfur
In order to better respond to the needs of the civilian population caught up in the fighting, two ICRC nutritionists and an ICRC agronomist have begun assessing the availability of food in the three Darfuri states. This will enable them to collect key information on the impact of food distributions carried out by the ICRC in 2005.
Restoring family links: campaign to reunite children with their families in Darfur
The conflict in Darfur has forced hundreds of thousands of families to leave their homes in search of refuge in nearby towns, large urban centres and even across the border in Chad. In the confusion, many children have become separated from their families.
In July 2005 the ICRC launched a campaign throughout Sudan aimed at reuniting these children with their families. Initially, the campaign focused on a group of 220 children who did not know the whereabouts of their parents. Posters with the pictures of the children were displayed in all ICRC offices, at branches of the Sudanese Red Crescent, in camps for displaced people in Darfur and in refugee camps in Chad. Several thousand booklets containing the pictures were also distributed. Lists containing the names of 450 other missing children were also distributed in these places.
A new phase of the campaign will soon be launched during which recently gathered information will be added to the lists.
Since the beginning of 2005, the ICRC has carried out the following activities:
The ICRC has supplied water to seven camps for displaced people and to urban areas, repaired water-supply networks in four towns (Al-Fashir, Kutum, Gereida and Al-Geneina) and provided some 600,000 people daily with two million litres of water.
It has distributed 27,600 tonnes of food to 300,000 people.
Its mobile field surgical team has been deployed almost 30 times since April, performing more than 200 operations on war-wounded patients (including combatants) who would otherwise have had no access to care.
In Sudan as a whole:
The ICRC has repaired and upgraded five hospitals and 12 primary health-care clinics.
It has provided four hospitals and 12 primary health-care clinics with staff, drugs, consultations and surgery, and expanded immunization and training programmes.
It has given talks on international humanitarian law, ICRC activities and the fundamental principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent to some 9,200 people, including government officials, military personnel, opposition groups, armed militias and religious and community leaders.
It has distributed 27,268 tarpaulins, 76,238 blankets, 34,900 kilos of soap, 9,254 kitchen sets, 19,174 jerrycans, 13,850 items of women's clothing, 22,485 items of girls' clothing, 22,790 items of boys' clothing, 10,765 pairs of women's sandals and 41,000 pairs of children's sandals to a total of 258,000 people.
It has collected 24,300 Red Cross messages and distributed 25,330.
It has continued to hold confidential discussions on matters relating to the protection of conflict victims with all the parties at all levels, both in the field and in Khartoum.
For further information, please contact:
Paul Conneally, ICRC Khartoum, tel. +249 9121 70576
Marco Jiménez Rodríguez, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 79 217 3217
or visit our website: www.icrc.org