On the night of 3 to 4 June, fighting between the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) broke out within two kilometres of Gereida, on the fringes of residential districts and crowded IDP camps, prompting the ICRC to evacuate 30 of its staff members. Both the SLA and the JEM are pitted against the Sudanese government in the current conflict in Darfur.
Thousands of camp residents fled to the relative safety of the surrounding bush to escape the immediate danger. Stray bullets found their way into civilian areas, including the ICRC compound. At least 12 people were reported killed and up to 40 injured. These clashes place an additional stress on civilians, who are already suffering the consequences of the conflict. The ICRC mobile field surgical team was dispatched to the area on 7 June.
During the preceding weeks, the SLA and JEM had already been engaged in skirmishes over the control of certain parts of southern Darfur. This fighting between two of the main opposition groups, considered as allies in the Darfur conflict, is a new development in the crisis. The ICRC returned to Gereida on 6 June to continue its urgent humanitarian work among the displaced people and local residents (see below).
UN Secretary General in Sudan
On 27 May, after attending an African Union donor conference in Addis Ababa, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan embarked on his second visit to Sudan in less than a year. Mr Annan made a three-day trip to Nyala town, the Kalma camp for displaced people and Labadu. He also visited Rumbek, in southern Sudan, where he held discussions with John Garang, leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), on the current political process and humanitarian needs in the region.
African Union and UN appeal for funds
On 26 May the African Union and the UN appealed jointly in Addis Ababa for donors to provide funds for the AU expanded mission in Sudan and thus help end the crisis in Darfur. The UN Secretary General co-chaired the meeting, at which the AU's 53 members asked donors for $466 million in military assistance and logistical support for the peace-keeping force, which is due to more than triple in size, from 2,300 troops when it was first deployed in August 2004 to 7,700 troops by September 2005.
Airlift to boost ICRC food-aid operation in Darfur
On 4 June the ICRC launched a two-month airlift out of Khartoum to bring much-needed food to residents of remote rural areas. The food - consisting mainly of sorghum, lentils and cooking oil - is being flown into Darfur on a chartered Ilyushin 76 for the benefit of an estimated 220,000 people in areas around Nyala and Al Fashir (for details, see ICRC News of 6 June).
Continuing aid dependence and insecurity
On 25 May the ICRC urged all the parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law, warning about the worsening food crisis in Darfur and the need for people to return to their homes, especially now that the planting season is approaching.
It is extremely important to revive the local economy, which was already fragile before the conflict broke out. Unless people can live safely in their homes again, there is a very high risk that they will remain completely reliant on humanitarian aid for their survival, trapped in a cycle of dependency for at least another 18 months (see ICRC press release of 25 May).
Recent surveys show a slight deterioration in the nutritional status of the population, especially children, in Seleia (western Darfur).
Food was distributed to more than 8,500 people in Seleia and Abata, and nearly 7,000 people received food rations for three months in Jebel Si (northern Darfur). Over 600 tonnes of food were distributed in all.
More than 7,500 people in the Jebel Si region, 8,500 in Sheria (southern Darfur), 2,680 in Seleia and 6,420 in Abata received seed and farming tools.
The ICRC health team assisted the Ministry of Health with its national polio campaign, vaccinating 7,600 children in the Gereida camp for displaced people (southern Darfur).
The ICRC's therapeutic feeding centre in Gereida is carrying out a programme for undernourished children in the same camp. The centre is currently feeding nearly 500 children a week, some of them on a daily basis. Because of the steady increase in the number of children affected, the ICRC and its partners from the Australian and British Red Cross Societies will open another feeding centre in Gereida with a view to preventing further cases of extreme undernourishment.
More than 80 civilians and combatants attended ICRC first-aid courses in rebel-controlled areas around Al Fasher (northern Darfur). This is the sixth time that such courses have been held in the region, giving the ICRC an opportunity to present its activities and explain basic principles of humanitarian law to people who are taking a direct or indirect part in the conflict.
Raising knowledge of international humanitarian law
From 24 to 26 May the ICRC held a training course on international humanitarian law for 34 majors and 22 lieutenant-colonels from the Sudanese Armed Forces. The officers are being trained as future military observers for UN and other peace-support operations.
During the same week the ICRC started the first phase of a planned three-year programme of basic training for members of the Sudanese Security and Intelligence Service. The aim is to have international humanitarian law and human rights law eventually included in the service's training curricula.
Since the beginning of 2005, the ICRC has carried out the following activities:
Supplied water to seven camps for some 200,000 displaced persons
Supplied water to urban areas and repaired water networks in three towns (Kutum, Gereida and Al Junaina)
Repaired 120 hand pumps serving 120,000 people, thereby reducing the need to travel to unsafe areas
Repaired and equipped seven boreholes serving up to 155,000 people
Distributed 7,720 tonnes of food to 329,446 people
In Sudan as a whole:
Rehabilitated and upgraded infrastructure in five hospitals and 12 primary health clinics
Supported four hospitals and 12 primary health clinics, providing health teams, drugs, consultations and surgery, plus expanded programmes of immunization and training
Conducted 45 sessions dealing with international humanitarian law, ICRC activities and the principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement for over 2,330 people including government officials, members of the armed forces, opposition groups, Arab and other militias and religious and community leaders
Collected 7,749 Red Cross messages and distributed 8,053
For further information, please contact:
Paul Conneally, ICRC Khartoum, tel. ++249
Marco Jiménez Rodríguez, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 79 217 3217