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Medical assistance in Nigeria

The ICRC, in close coordination with the Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS), provided medical assistance for people injured in violence that erupted in May in Plateau and Kano states.

Teams visited hospitals and first-aid posts in Shendam and Yelwa. They distributed 16 dressing sets and other materials that enabled medical personnel and Red Cross volunteers on the spot to treat up to 500 wounded.

The ICRC and NRCS also assessed the needs of people who had fled the violence in Yelwa. Some 2,500 of them have been located in Lafia town in neighbouring Nassarawa state; aid was also given to the hospital there.

Meanwhile, following the violence that erupted in Kano on 10 May, another ICRC team reached the city five days later and provided emergency supplies to the general hospital; the national Red Cross had been giving medical assistance to the wounded throughout the crisis. The ICRC also visited camps for displaced people in Kano.

The ICRC in Nigeria has a quick-response capacity to provide medical facilities with emergency dressing sets to treat 2,500 wounded and to provide essential emergency items for 20,000 displaced people.

©Susan Kennedy / LENSMEN

Towards a mine-free world

Today, over three-quarters of the world's states have ratified or acceded to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on their Destruction, also known as the Ottawa treaty, which was adopted in 1997. These countries include some of the most mine-infested states in the world, such as Angola, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia and Nicaragua.

One of the pillars of the treaty is a set of promises that each state agrees to pursue. For example, governments promise mine-affected communities that one day they can return to a peaceful life, free of the fear of death or mutilation by hidden anti-personnel mines which infest their fields, pastures, footpaths and playgrounds. To mine survivors, governments promise to provide the assistance they need to rebuild their lives in dignity. And to future generations, governments promise that the scourge of anti-personnel mines will never return. But are these promises being fulfilled? Is the Ottawa treaty making a real difference on the ground?

At the end of this year, world leaders will meet to answer these crucial questions, at the Ottawa treaty's First Review Conference, referred to as the Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World. Governments, international organizations, the ICRC and other members of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, as well as the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and other civil society representatives from all over the world, will gather to take stock of the progress made towards the global elimination of anti-personnel mines since the Convention entered into force in 1999.

The ICRC has found that where the treaty is being fully implemented, the annual number of new mine victims has fallen significantly. But the landmine crisis is far from over. These hidden killers continue to claim thousands of new victims each year. Ending the landmine era will require the sustained efforts of all states, humanitarian actors and civil society.

The Movement remains committed to achieving the Ottawa treaty's humanitarian objectives and bringing about a mine-free world. As a sign of this commitment, in December 2003, the Movement's Council of Delegates renewed the Movement Strategy on Landmines until 2009, and extended it to cover other explosive remnants of war. The Strategy on Landmines provides a comprehensive framework for the Movement's efforts to reduce the suffering caused by landmines, which in addition to working directly with mine victims and mine-affected communities, includes advocacy to promote international norms such as the Ottawa treaty.

For more information see

©REUTERS / Radu Sigheti,

Response in Darfur

In response to the major humanitarian crisis resulting from the conflict in the Darfur region, the ICRC, in partnership with the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS), has considerably reinforced its operations. Priority assistance is provided to the displaced, sick and wounded persons, most of them being scattered in camps and across towns. Assistance includes building materials, cooking items and other basic necessities, drinking water, hygiene and sanitation items as well as seeds and agricultural tools.

The ICRC has opened operational bases in Al Junaina and Zalinji in western Darfur, in addition to Al Fashir, Kutum and Kabkabiya in northern Darfur and Nyala in southern Darfur. So far, over 50 expatriate delegates and 150 national staff are working for the Darfur operation and they cooperate closely with the branches and units of the SRCS, which is playing a key role in this emergency operation performed in a difficult environment. SRCS staff and volunteers carry out field assessments, register internally displaced persons and distribute relief items. They also help run the tracing and Red Cross message (RCM) service that is crucial re-establishing family links. The ICRC further seeks to coordinate the response of other partners from the Movement in Darfur, namely the Spanish Red Cross, which has a long-established presence in the area, and the German Red Cross which recently expanded its activities to Darfur.

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