Fact sheet: ICRC Regional Delegation in Kenya

Regional Delegations:
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.

The ICRC activities in Kenya cover a wide spectrum of humanitarian activities, such as:

Visits to prisoners to asses their material and psychological conditions:

In 1998, the ICRC carried out visits to 39 detainees in Djibouti and supplied the prison with hygiene products and medical supplies.

In 1998, the ICRC visited 31 detainees in Tanzania held by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

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

  • continued to serve as the main means of communication for Somalis and Ethiopians in 3 refugee camps in Djibouti.
  • handled 80,670 Red Cross Messages on behalf of refugees throughout Tanzania.
  • with the assistance of the Tanzanian Red Cross, repatriated and/or reunited 102 unaccompanied children with their families in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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. In 1998, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda, the ICRC:

  • dispatched medical supplies for ICRC operations.
  • procured and dispatched water and sanitation supplies for ICRC operations.
  • procured locally 1,676 tonnes of relief goods and dispatched 13,055 tonnes for ICRC operations.

Rehabilitation projects carried out in cooperation with the National Societies. In 1998, the ICRC:

  • together with the Kenyan Red Cross, carried out 18 community projects involving rehabilitation of dispensaries and schools in 3 districts.
  • rehabilitated the water-supply systems in 3 main prisons in Dar es Salaam in cooperation with the Tanzania Red Cross and the Ministry of Interior.

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.

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 Projects:

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.

Budget and Staff:

The 1999 budget for the ICRC regional delegation in Kenya is: SFr 10,008,272.

Personnel includes:

  • 49 expatriates.
  • 936 locally hired staff.