SUDAN WATCH: Blowing up handpumps is not a good idea - Darfur delegates protect civilians

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Blowing up handpumps is not a good idea - Darfur delegates protect civilians

In Darfur, two British Red Cross women have been working in the field helping to ensure respect for civilians by all those fighting in the conflict - Reuters reported April 13, 2006:
Caroline Birch and Kirsty MacDonald have just returned from south and west Darfur respectively, on separate assignments with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

As protection delegates Caroline and Kirsty were carrying out a vital role of the ICRC in conflict zones - to promote adherence to international humanitarian law by all parties involved.

"I was extremely well-received," Caroline said. "The ICRC is seen in a very positive light because it is impartial and neutral.

"I would speak to survivors, often people who had run to a neighbouring village, to find out exactly what had happened. Then I would meet with the leader of those accused of the attack and, by talking to them, try to prevent it happening again," she said.

Caroline also explained to those fighting that international humanitarian law prohibits attacks against infrastructures necessary for civilians' survival, such as hand water pumps.

"In Darfur, those involved in the conflict want to fight by the rules, they responded well when we pointed out that blowing up hand pumps was not a good idea," she said.

Caroline also visited detainees to ensure their conditions are humane.
Woman at water point in Darfur

Photo: Water points, installed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), can be seen here at the Kassab camp for displaced people. In 2004, the Red Cross repaired and installed safe water supplies that provided 200,000 people with two million litres of water a day. (British Red Cross)

Red Cross convoy in N Darfur

Photo: An International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) food aid convoy can be seen here, returning from a distribution in the southeastern part of Northern Darfur. In just ten days, the Red Cross can distribute 600 tonnes of food aid to 20,000 people. (British Red Cross)


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