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Republic of Congo: Health, Integration of Refugees, Capacity Building and Disaster Preparedness Situation Report No. 2

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For the last six months of 1999, the Congo-Brazzaville delegation made efforts to reinforce the operating capacity of the Congolese Red Cross (CRC). Because access to the provinces remained difficult, the Federation and the CRC focused activities primarily on the following three regions and 4 sectors: in the northern region, emergency assistance for people returning to Brazzaville; in the north of the country, reinforcing the regional structure of the CRC while assisting victims of the
recent floods; in the south of the country, supporting the CRC's operations to assist and integrate some 6,000 Angolan Cabindan refugees (an Angolan enclave) into the local population; and at the national level, consolidating the experience gained by the CRC during the first six months of the year, and assisting in the development of resource development projects to be implemented in 2000.
appeal no. 01.08/99
period covered: June - December, 1999
5 January, 2000

The context

For a period of more than one year what many Congolese refer to as the countries third civil war has been underway. The conflict, which started in September 1998, has affected the Pool, Niari, Bouéza, Kouilou, Lékouma, and Plateaux regions, with grave humanitarian consequences for the populations of those areas.

It is estimated that more than 800,000 persons have been forced to flee their homes or residences, and this population now lacks access to basic health facilities and treatments as well as food. The population has also been subjected to physical and sexual assaults.

The lack of security precludes access to the interior of the country for humanitarian organizations, and the returnee population in Brazzaville is essentially the only group receiving any adequate assistance.

Latest events

In the month of May, 1999, the areas of Bacongo and Makélékélé were re-opened by the authorities, initiating a return movement of displaced persons. This movement increased considerably from July to September, 1999, when a large part of the population located in the Pool region came back to the capital. This population was traumatized by the experience, with many severely malnourished.

The table below provides an estimate of returns to Brazzaville during the July - September period:

Persons arriving from Pool to the transit center
Makélékélé
July
August
September
October
November
December
4,173
35,123
35,218
41,226
21,973
23,161

* The December figures are approximate.

Part of this population has returned to their residential areas, but a considerable part, not knowing where to go, has been received at sites managed by the Red Cross /Red Crescent Movement. During this period the following displaced persons were accomodated in sites in Brazzaville:

Sites
July
August
September
October
November
December
Kimbanguiste
935
894
Closed
-
-
-
ENAM
2605
4,060
3,523
3,670
2,842
3,360
Mafouta
-
-
Opened
1,265
2,472
2,475
Mantsimou
-
-
-
-
Opened
1,225
Total
3,540
4,954
3,523
4,935
5,314
7,060


Red Cross/Red Crescent action

Brazzaville

  • distribution of non-food items.
  • Transition from emergency operation to reinforcing the operational capacity of the CRC.
  • Training and formation of 200 volunteers in emergency response.
Distribution of emergency items

From June - mid-July, a distribution of emergency relief items was carried out, with ECHO funding. This distribution was intended to facilitate the return of displaced persons in the areas of origin. With the support of the Federation team and in collaboration with the ICRC, 83 volunteers of the CRC carried out beneficiary registration and distributed assistance in the areas of Bakongo et Makélékélé. Non-food items were distributed as follows:

Items
Quantity/units
Blankets
3,500
Kitchen sets
400
Jerrycans
6,000
Plastic sheets
315
Soap
6,225 (5 tons)


Training of CRC volunteers:

To respond to the need to support the CRC in urban emergency operations and activities, during July and August the Federation team assisted various CRC departments with training session based on the "Learning by doing" method.

The community based first aid manual serves as an effective training tool for volunteer teams carrying out emergency operations.

The massive return of displaced from the region of Pool, particularly during the month of August, necessitated a more organized training structure which functioned in concert with the emergency operations. From September, a pilot training programme was carried out for 50 volunteers, with extremely positive results reinforced by the fact that ICRC emergency operations have noticeably improved.

Following this success, the ICRC expressed support for a Federation proposal to undertake a three month training for 350 volunteers - 200 from Brazzaville, 100 from Pointe-Noire, and 50 from Owando. Fifty ICRC trainers started the three month training covering the following subjects:

  • knowledge of the Red Cross / Red Crescent Movement;
  • registering beneficiaries;
  • distributions of relief items;
  • management of temporary shelters;
  • disaster prevention, planning, preparedness, and response;
  • health education;
  • hygiene and sanitation;
  • first aid.
The following table reflects the number of persons trained in each activity by month:

Emergency training activities
Number of CRC volunteers trained each month
July
August
September
October
November
December
Assessments
176
280
300
341
330
210
Distribution of food
44
488
418
592
422
396
Distribution of non-food
308
139
0
48
60
45
Beneficiary registration
43
30
0
0
0
0
Construction
0
182
336
364
336
252
Health
840
1,020
840
312
480
306
Training
289
348
637
3,200
3,200
3,200
Total
1,700
2,487
2,531
4,857
4,828
4,409


Pointe-Noire

  • Assistance programme for Cabindan refugees.
  • Training of 100 volunteers in emergency principles.
The CRC, with the support of the Federation Pointe-Noire sub-delegation, implemented an assistance programme for Cabindan refugees, consisting of providing assistance to refugees located in three sites as well as for urban refugees principally located in Point-Noire. The refugee population itself, located as follows, has been very stable:

Cabindan Refugees at three sites

Kondi-Mbaka
July
August
September
October
November
December
3,042
3,045
3,045
3,048
3,048
3,026
Mavoadi
285
285
285
286
286
288
Komi
2.71
2.71
2.71
2,709
2,709
2,709
Urban Refugees
127
132
135
141
145
146
Total
6.16
6.17
6.17
6,184
6,188
6,132


A CRC team is responsible for managing each of these refugee assistance operations, supervised and supported by the Federation's Delegation.

For both groups of refugees in Pointe-Noire, the following activities are implemented by the Federation and the CRC, and are intended to focus on a long-term integration of the refugees into the local population:

  • construction of schools and houses;
  • repair and maintenance of roads;
  • health and nutrition, including three health posts;
  • agriculture and small animal breeding;
  • education;
  • social assistance;
  • micro project funding.
In concert with these activities, the Federation team will provide technical assistance to 10 trainers from the CRC regional committee at Pointe-Noire for the training of 100 volunteers in disaster response methods.

Owando

In Owanda, the administrative capital of the Cuvette region, the focus has been on supporting the regional CRC committee to develop the capacity to undertake disaster response assistance and action for flood victims, and to train 50 volunteers in emergency response methods.

Three Red Cross missions visited Owando during October, November, and December. The first, composed of representatives of the three components of the Movement, allowed assistance to be delivered to 200 families affected by the floods. The second, composed of member of the CRC and the Federation, identified needs and prepared a project to reinforce the operational capacity of the regional CRC committee. Finally, the third mission focused on training of 50 CRC volunteers originating from 9 districts of the region over the course of two weeks.

During this period the Federation and the CRC also considered a number of possible projects to be implemented in 2000, primarily intended to reinforce the training and motivation of the 350 CRC recently trained volunteers. The focus will remain on Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, Kinkala, Dolisie et Nkayi, and the following specific objectives will be addressed:

  • disaster training;
  • progressive development of community health activities;
  • renovation of CRC committee facilities;
  • development of income generating projects;
  • preparation of regional assemblies, considered essential for defining future CRC actions and
    directions.
Outstanding needs

As a result of the training activities carried out in 1999, at the beginning of 2000 the CRC has 350 volunteers available, trained in emergency response and community based activities. These volunteers are ready to respond to all emergency situations, as already shown by the ongoing emergency operations in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire.

The challenge is now to provide the CRC with the support to extend its responsibilities to regions seriously affected by the civil war, as well as permitting the National Society to develop the capacity to maintain its current response level as well as for operations to be undertaken throughout 2000.

External relations - Government/UN/NGOs/Media

Contacts with journalists and regular coordination meetings have generated a positive environment of cooperation between the ICRC, the CRC, and the Federation. The complementarity of activities of the three components of the Movement at the operational level demonstrates a practical application of the Seville Agreement.

Following the completion of a four and a half month ECHO contract, the delegation maintains excellent contacts with the ECHO regional office in Kinshasa, as well as with the UNFPA with which a project to assist victims of sexual violence has been extended for one year, and with UNHCR which has agreed with the Federation to continue to manage and implement assistance to the Cabindan refugee caseload.

Contributions

See Annex 1 for details.

Conclusion

The achievements of the last six months have reinforced the operational capacity of the CRC, in particular the emergency operations. From a practical point of view, the CRC has significantly increased its knowledge in terms of community first aid with the training of trainers and 350 volunteers. The Federation and the CRC should continue to call on the services of and reinforce the motivation of these volunteers as they form a solid base for the reconstruction of CRC structures and the implementation of assistance programmes at the communal level.

It is therefore imperative for the Federation to enlarge its programme to reinforce the operational capacity of the CRC, and to extend this support to regions where vulnerable groups remain in a precarious humanitarian situation.

Bekele Geleta
Director
Africa Department

Peter Rees-Gildea
Director
Operations Funding and
Reporting Department