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, jerry cans, 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 Meroe and Wadi Halfa in Northern state. An emergency water system for 5,800 people was set up in Gezira state, and 10 hand pumps were installed to supply drinking water for the population of Jebel Awlia, 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.
- 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.
By (ICRC Press Release)