Fact sheet: ICRC in Sudan

General Situation
Internal conflict and unrest in Sudan have extended across almost half the country. The combined effects of fighting between government and opposition groups and between factions themselves, together with a run of natural disasters, have had devastating effects on a large proportion of the civilian population.

The ongoing 17-year conflict has badly affected the lives of thousands of people. It has prompted huge population displacements, existing infrastructure has been damaged and traditional coping mechanisms have been disrupted in many areas, causing long-lasting humanitarian consequences which need to be addressed. In addition to the conflict, natural disasters have added further to the population displacements.

Throughout 1999 internal conflict and unrest have continued to extend across almost half of Sudanese territory.

The ICRC delegation is located in Khartoum with sub- delegations in Juba, Wau and Lokichokio. ICRC offices are also located in Yirol, Bentiu, Nairobi and Chelkou.

Major activities

Long Term Approach:

In 1998, the ICRC introduced rehabilitation programmes encompassing relief, health, water and sanitation aspects and including a training component.

Lack of medical supplies and qualified staff led to a critical situation on the health front, and the fighting and insecurity made it difficult for people to reach those health facilities that were still functioning. Initially, the most important task was to stock clinics with basic supplies, then to shift the focus subsequently to health education, vaccinations, mother and child care, training and monitoring activities.

Exposure to the elements and lack of clean water and sanitation systems have left displaced people vulnerable and further destabilized community health. Access to safe drinking water was a particular problem. To address these problems, the ICRC launched a number of programmes aimed at giving easier access to safe drinking water and improving waste disposal.

Seed and Tools Programme:

Since the beginning of 1999, the ICRC has been concentrating its efforts on the launch of a large-scale seeds and tools programme to help populations affected by conflict in southern Sudan to re-establish their self sufficiency, and to reduce their need for direct assistance.

A total of 60,000 households were targeted and each received 10 kg of seeds and three types of tools.

One of the Worlds Largest Red Cross Message Networks:

An estimated 4 million people were still displaced in Sudan in 1998 and over 300,000 Sudanese were living as refugees in neighbouring countries. At the same time, refugees from Eritrea, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Chad had sought shelter in Sudan. Many displaced people and refugees had no means of communicating with their families other than by Red Cross message. The ICRC tracing staff is active in all regions of the country, restoring links between children, civilians and detainees separated from their families. With a monthly average of 8,000 to 10,000 messages exchanged, the Red Cross message network in Sudan remains one of the largest in the world.

Support for the National Society:

The Sudanese Red Crescent Society plays an important role in the ICRC's work in government controlled areas of Sudan. The ICRC itself supplies regular financial and logistical support to all five National Society branches in southern Sudan and the Kassala branch. In cooperation with the Sudanese Red Crescent, the ICRC distributes emergency assistance in conflict zones.

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

  • Relief activities that provide assistance to vulnerable people in times of war:

Between January and September 1999, the ICRC:

  • Implemented a major seed and tool programme for some 60,000 families affected by the conflict in southern Sudan
  • Distributed 377.3 tonnes of food and 959 tonnes of other assistance to the most vulnerable among the displaced people and residents.
  • Undertook long-term integrated projects focusing on health, water supply, sanitation and food security in Wau, Juba, Bentiu, Chelkou and Yirol
  • Health and orthopaedic activities to care for for the war-wounded:

    Between January and September 1999, the ICRC:

    • Continued to run its 560 bed surgical hospital in Lokichokio, where 865 patients, including 720 war-wounded, were treated
    • Manufactured 357 prostheses and 56 orthoses at the National Centre for Prostheses and Orthoses in Khartoum and at the prosthetic/orthotic workshop in Lopiding surgical hospital
    • Admitted and treated 1,640 surgical patients, including 141 war-wounded, in the Juba Teaching Hospital
  • Restoring family links through the Red Cross Message Network (RCM):

    Between January and September 1999, the ICRC handled 59,637 RCM reunited 4 families

    • Visits to prisoners to check on their material and psychological conditions.

    Between January and September 1999, the ICRC continued to visit persons detained by the SPLA and monitored their conditions of detention.

    • Educational seminars to promote International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and its principles. Groups targeted are military officers, security officers, police and university students.

    Between January and September 1999, the ICRC conducted dissemination sessions on IHL for military officers (government and SPLA), police, Sudanese Red Crescent volunteers and students.

    Budget and Staff

    The 2000 budget for ICRC Sudan is SFr 41,479,826

    Personnel includes:

    89 expatriates.
    696 locally hired staff.

    Ref. LG 2000-020-ENG