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Fact sheet: ICRC Regional Delegation in Kenya

Regional Delegation
Regional delegations have a different profile than operational delegations. They usually cover countries at peace, with a few exceptions, and their tasks focus primarily on humanitarian diplomacy. But regional delegations are sometimes faced with increasing tensions and violence in one or more of the countries that they cover and thus become also partly operational. Delegates can be called upon to perform tasks similar to those of other operational delegations such as protection and assistance.

Humanitarian diplomacy involves developing and maintaining regular contacts with the authorities, the armed forces, civil society, and the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in all countries covered by a regional delegation. All regional delegates actively promote International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and cooperation with the National Societies.

The ICRC regional delegation in Nairobi covers Kenya, Tanzania and Djibouti.

General Situation

The Great Lakes and Horn of Africa region is undergoing a period of profound instability, with many countries in the midst of conflict and/or natural disaster. For their part, Kenya, Djibouti and Tanzania have all been affected by influxes of refugees.

Growing poverty and social tensions in Kenya are at the root of urban violence, student rioting on the streets of Nairobi and workers' demonstrations, during which people are injured in the capital and other towns.

Kenya was not spared the devastation wrought by the El Niño weather phenomenon. Unusually heavy rainfall in 1997-1998 left an estimated 2,000 people dead and caused major damage to roads and railways. In early 1999, famine was observed in north and north-eastern provinces while most of the country experienced a total crop failure.

The health situation in Tanzania is generally poor, with endemic cholera and a rundown medical infrastructure unable to cope while the economic situation in Djibouti remains critical with a deterioration in health and social services and the only power plant in Djibouti unable to provide a regular supply of electricity.

Moreover the fighting in the DRC has led to influxes of refugees in Tanzania. Thousands have seeked asylum in the Kigoma region and thousands continue to flee the violence in Burundi. At the end of September 1999, Tanzania was sheltering some 100,000 Congolese refugees, 276,000 Burundian refugees and 20,000 Rwandan refugees.

The ICRC's regional delegation in Nairobi has a dual purpose: first, to cover the three countries listed above in the same way as other ICRC regional delegations, and second to provide services for ICRC operations in the surrounding countries of the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region.

Major activities

Tracing Services:

The Nairobi delegation's tracing service manages several databases centralizing information on detainees and unaccompanied children within a vast region, including Rwanda, Uganda and Sudan, and assists the ICRC's delegations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Burundi, Tanzania and Somalia in all matters relating to tracing.

In response to the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict, a new database was installed in Nairobi to centralize information on civilians, unaccompanied children, prisoners of war, civilian internees and detainees. The ICRC tracing network continues to serve as the only means of contact for most of the Ethiopian and Somali refugees in Djibouti.

The ICRC provides financial support to the Kenyan Red Cross Society to set up tracing offices in newly established refugee camps.

Education of International Humanitarian Law (IHL):

In June, 1998, the ICRC hosted a seminar on the teaching of humanitarian law in Kenyan universities. The seminar was followed in December by a "train the trainers" workshop, whose aim was to provide in-depth knowledge of IHL and propose methods and procedures for lecturers preparing a course on "Society and International Humanitarian Law".

This core course was developed by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Egerton University together with the ICRC and is now incorporated into the compulsory syllabus for undergraduates. The course, which is the first of its kind in East Africa, is delivered by a group of six IHL-trained lecturers with the assistance of expert tutors provided by the ICRC.

The ICRC carried out courses on the Law of Armed Conflict for training officers of the Tanzanian People's Defense Force. Different military academies and major military structures are represented at course seminars.

With a view to promoting the knowledge of the basic rules of the Law of Armed Conflict at all levels of the Kenyan and Tanzanian Armed Forces, the production of a Kiswahili-English version of the Code of Conduct for Combatants was initiated in cooperation with the Department of Defense of Kenya.

Cooperation with National Societies:

The ICRC carries out cooperation activities with the National Societies to determine long and medium-term programmes for displaced people including food and non-food distribution and agricultural programmes.

The ICRC initiates projects with the National Societies to improve water supplies in villages and prisons, assists in the efforts to train and introduce new IHL education coordinators and provides logistical and financial support when needed.

The ICRC activities for the regional delegation in Kenya cover a wide spectrum of humanitarian activities, such as:

  • Visits to prisoners to assess their material and psychological conditions:

Between January and September 1999, the ICRC carried out visits to 45 security detainees held in Gabode's central prison in Djibouti and supplied blankets and hygiene items for 500 inmates.

Between January and September 1999, the ICRC carried out 2 visits to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Tanzania, registering 3 new detainees and revisiting 30; visited 18 detainees on Zanzibar island for the first time and 72 internees/detainees held at the Mwisa camp in Kagera, Tanzania.

  • Restoring family links through the Red Cross Message Network. In 1998, the ICRC:

carried out tracing activities in Djibouti; supported the tracing activities of the National Societies in Tanzania and Kenya, which handled a total of 26,845 RCM

centralized information concerning 10,000 detainees, unaccompanied children and their relatives in its databases in Nairobi

  • Promoting and facilitating regular educational seminars to spread the basic rules of International Humanitarian Law and principles among various groups.
  • Relief and health activities carried out throughout the region.

Between January and September 1999, the ICRC acted as a procurement and dispatch centre for relief goods, water supply and medical items in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda and the Balkans region:

- in collaboration with the Kenyan Red Cross distributed 524 tonnes of food and 19 tonnes of material assistance to displaced people and other vulnerable groups in Kenya

- donated basic medical and surgical materials to the Maweni Regional Hospital in Kigoma, Tanzania, and to Lodwar hospital, 6 additional hospitals and 4 dispensaries along the Rift Valley

- initiated a number of water-supply and sanitation projects, notably in Kenya.

Budget and Staff

The 2000 budget for the ICRC regional delegation in Kenya is: SFr 9,529,566.

Personnel includes:

37 expatriates.
423 locally hired staff.

Ref. LG 2000-021-ENG

Last update : 28/02/2000