CAR

Central African Republic: ICRC activities Jan to May 2007

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Operational update

The ICRC is stepping up its activities in the Central African Republic (CAR) as a result of increasing levels of violence. The following is a description of ICRC activities in the CAR between January and May 2007.

The ICRC has been present in the Central African Republic (CAR) since 1997. With the current escalation of the conflict across northern areas of the country, the ICRC has opened a new office in Kaga Bandoro in February 2007. In addition, another is soon to be opened in Birao in the remote north-east where intense fighting broke out in December 2006 and again in March 2007. Already in April 2006, the ICRC had opened a new office in Paoua in the north-west of the country.

ICRC staff levels are also being increased in Bangui, the capital. The mission, which formerly depended on the regional delegation in Yaoundé, was upgraded to an operational delegation on 8 May.

Protection

People deprived of freedom

The ICRC regularly visits security detainees on an individual basis and monitors the health and welfare of the general prison population in the CAR. Since 2006, the resurgence of armed opposition groups has led to an increase in the number of arrests. Detention facilities generally lack the funds to ensure appropriate conditions and cases of malnutrition have been identified in some places of detention.

Between January and May 2007, ICRC delegates made 26 visits to 18 permanent and temporary detention places. A total of 16 detainees were visited for the first time and registered.

Civilians

Grave violations of IHL persist in relation to the current situation in the CAR. An increased presence in conflicted-affected regions has enhanced the ICRC's capacity to assess and respond to emergency needs, collect allegations about violations of IHL and make representations to the parties concerned.

Between January and May 2007, ICRC delegates collected and documented allegations of misconduct by weapon bearers towards civilians, made regular oral representations to the relevant authorities with the aim of stopping further abuses and submitted two written reports.

They also conducted presentations for armed forces troops stationed in the north and developed a dialogue with other weapon bearers on the need to protect and respect civilians and those no longer taking part in hostilities.

Assistance

Emergency assistance (EcoSec)

The ICRC, as a rapid response organization, provides emergency assistance to people in crisis, including those displaced by fighting. Emergency assistance is distributed to beneficiaries in collaboration with the CAR Red Cross Society.

Between January and May 2007, the ICRC identified 40,000 destitute displaced people (8,000 families) in the north-west region of Ouham-Pendé in need of shelter material and essential household items.

As a consequence of the widening conflict and its increased impact on the civilian population identified in recent field assessments, a further 64,000 people (some 13,000 families) in the prefectures of Ouham, Ouham-Pendé and Nana-Grebizi, and in the north-east have been added to this list of beneficiaries. Simultaneously, more than 65,000 people (13,000 families) are being provided with farming tools to plant seeds before the next rainy season in July-August. This is around 50,000 more than initially foreseen.

Water and habitat

In CAR, the ICRC's work includes re-establishing urban and rural water networks and carrying out sanitation projects and rehabilitation work in health centres. Hygiene promotion and environmental health training are part of this programme:

Between January and May 2007, 2 water points were rehabilitated and 9 blocks of public latrines/showers were constructed in health centres and schools. The ICRC financed the training of 10 volunteers of the Central African Red Cross Society (CRCA) in community projects. Volunteers of the CRCA supported and trained by the ICRC conducted hygiene promotion sessions in 18 villages.

In addition, assessments were conducted in 3 permanent places of detention with a view to improving sanitation.

Cooperation with CAR Red Cross Society

The ICRC, as part of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, assists the CARRCS technically and financially to build its capacity to deliver various programmes and services to the community. The Central African Red Cross Society is receiving additional support to set up new branches in conflict zones specializing in first-aid and emergency-response as well as in training in how to handle human remains.

Between August 2006 and May 2007 the cooperation delegate

- supported the revision, dissemination and adoption of the CARRCS statutes during its general assembly held on 27 - 29 December 2006.

- set up the CARRCS first-aid and emergency service, organized the training of 32 trainers and established two emergency first-aid teams in Paoua

- set up the restoring family links service through training the national staff member responsible and the establishment of 5 local branches

- signed a cooperation convention concerning a rural hydraulic project between the ICRC and the CARRCS.

Promotion of International Humanitarian Law (IHL)

The ICRC's humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of war and prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening compliance with IHL.

Between January and May 2007, ICRC delegates held a total of seven dissemination sessions for 360 arms carriers both in Bangui and in the conflict affected areas.