In Eritrea, the ICRC endeavors to alleviate human suffering arising from the effects of the international armed conflict with Ethiopia (1998-2000). The ICRC's priorities are to assist the population still affected by the conflict, and to ensure that civilians of Ethiopian origin enjoy the protection due to them under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Furthermore, the organization promotes the knowledge of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and supports the "Red Cross Society of Eritrea" in its efforts to develop its capacity in the areas of tracing, dissemination, conflict preparedness and emergency response.
The figures and facts mentioned in the fact-sheet cover the period from October to December 2002.
Assistance to people affected by conflict
An ICRC team assessed the drought situation within the Temporary Security Zone and in villages in the South of Gash-Barka and Debub to which internal displaced persons (IDPs) have returned during 2001 and 2002. Based on the findings, a Drought Response Program was drafted, which is due to be implemented in the first 6 months of 2003.
In order to assure safe water for an overall IDP population of 30'000 people living in several camps, the ICRC repaired and maintained generators, submersible pumps and hand-pumps; water reservoirs were cleaned and disinfected.
Some 60'000 IDPs in camps were provided with 126'000 pieces of toilet soap and nearly 5000 bars of laundry soap. According to the needs in the camps, an additional 1227 jerrycans, 2585 kitchen sets and almost 12'000 blankets were distributed.
271 families who returned to Debai Sima (Southern Red Sea) were provided with tarpaulins, jerrycans and laundry soap. In Monoxoito (Debub), 77 families who had been displaced recently received tarpaulins, family tents, jerrycans, kitchen sets and blankets.
Water and sanitation
In the village of Endembastifanos (Debub), a new borehole was drilled, 800 metres of pipeline were laid, a reservoir and a public fountain were built. Once completed, the water distribution project will serve 1200 resettled IDPs as well as 800 residents of the region.
In Digme (Debub), the ICRC started to rehabilitate 45 traditional houses, which were damaged during the conflict. The beneficiaries are 163 resettled persons who are currently living in tents.
In Shilalo (Gash Barka), the damaged Health Station was in the process of being rehabilitated. This project aims to improve access to primary health care for a population of about 17'500 people.
In communities of the sub-zobas Senafe, Mai Ainy and Tsorona (all of zoba Debub) and Shambiko and Laelay Gash (Gash Barka), 9 hand-pumps serving a population of 5400 persons were repaired.
In the village of Bishuka (Gash Barka), a new water distribution project was completed and handed over to the community. It distributes water to a population of around 5000 persons through 3 public fountains.
In Tokombia (Gash Barka), the rehabilitation of a Health Centre serving a community of over 56'000 people was completed.
Repatriations and Safe passage operations
149 Eritrean civilians were safely repatriated from Ethiopia. Their transport with their belongings from the border to the transit camp was covered by the ICRC.
284 Ethiopian civilians and 51 Ethiopian detainees have been registered, interviewed and repatriated safely under ICRC auspices.
Restoring family links
In order to facilitate family contacts between Eritreans and Ethiopians separated from their families, 3037 Red Cross Messages (RCMs) were collected and 5303 distributed within Eritrea.
Some 26 new tracing requests were opened, and 21 cases closed (among which four positively and 17 negatively).
Twelve children were reunited with their families - eleven in Eritrea and one in Ethiopia. Seven adults with health problems, coming from Ethiopia, were also reunited with their families in Eritrea.
Prisoners of war, Civilian internees and detainees
In the last week of November, Ethiopia released the last Eritrean Prisoners of War (POWs) and Civilian Internees who had been registered and regularly visited by the ICRC. ICRC staff based in Ethiopia accompanied 1130 POWs and 95 Civilian Internees on 27 buses to the border at Mereb bridge. On 29 November, the group crossed the border between Rama (Ethiopia) and Adi Quala (Eritrea). The ICRC Eritrea team placed the persons into the care of the Eritrean authorities.
In order to ascertain the detention conditions of Ethiopian civilians, ICRC delegates visited 101 detainees held in different police stations and prisons over the country.
Wounded and sick
In co-operation with the Ministry of Health, a four-days Trauma Management course for 24 doctors, nurses, midwifes and other health professionals was held in November in Asmara. The course was aiming to increase the participant's knowledge and practical skills in major trauma management and to help them to train health staff in their hospitals on the good standard trauma management.
Twenty associate physiotherapists, which had been trained by the ICRC and the Ministry of Health were appointed to different hospitals and started to work.
Diverse orthopedic material was donated to the Asmara orthopedic center.
Training on ICRC's mandate and International Humanitarian Law
Briefings on ICRC's mandate and introductions on IHL and the parallels to Human Rights were provided to UNMEE national staff on the International Human Rights Day, as well as to 40 Irish Guards based in Asmara and 14 officers of JORBATT4 of the UNMEE peacekeeping forces.
In November, a first-ever four-day basic course on IHL for 20 officers of the Eritrean Defence Forces was held in Embatkala (Northern Red Sea). The course was opened by Brigadier General Negash Tesfazion, commander of the EDF training centre in Sawa, and closed by the Minister of Defence, General Sibhat Efrem.
Contacts with the Eritrean Police Training Centre in Asmara were pursued and a first Tigrinya translation of an ICRC training booklet for police and security forces on Human Rights was commissioned.
Support to the Red Cross Society of Eritrea (RSCE)
The ICRC donated to the RCSE emergency stocks of non-food items for 3000 persons within the framework of the Conflict Preparedness and Response program.
The Tracing Agencies of the ICRC and RCSE worked closely together, especially for distributing Red Cross Messages (RCMs) in the rural areas.
The course curriculum of the RCSE First Aid training was reviewed and the standardization started with ICRC support.
The RCSE dissemination department was provided with new tools and brochures to perform its information sessions for the general public, students and community mothers on the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
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