South Sudan: Number of hungry, displaced at staggering levels, ICRC president says during visit

Juba (ICRC) – The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) arrives in South Sudan today to view the devastating effects that the country’s continued violence is having on the millions of residents on the brink of extreme hunger.

The numbers associated with South Sudan’s violence reveal the level of brutality being carried out against civilians. Of the country’s population of 12 million, one in three residents has been displaced, while one in two is severely hungry and in need of food assistance.

The number of hungry and displaced South Sudanese is overwhelming,” said ICRC President Peter Maurer. “The staggering scale of suffering is evidence of the cumulative effect of 3.5 years of a style of fighting that appears calibrated to maximize misery. Warfare should not directly impact the lives of so many civilians.”

Severe physical and sexual attacks against civilians, obstruction of healthcare delivery and other abuses continue to be reported across South Sudan. Medical needs are rising because of increased fighting. The number of wounded treated in ICRC-supported hospitals is significantly higher this year than for the same period last year. The ICRC has carried out more than 500 medical evacuations this year, more than in all of 2016.

The long conflict is tearing apart an uncountable number of families. Nearly 2 million people have fled across South Sudan’s borders, and 2 million more are internally displaced. The number of family members separated by conflict and reunited by the ICRC has already more than doubled this year compared with 2016, to nearly four dozen, including many children.

While in South Sudan President Maurer will meet with high-level government officials and visit ICRC food, medical/surgical and water assistance operations in the field. The president will then travel to the Imvepi and Rhino refugee camps in Uganda to meet with some of the South Sudanese refugees there and hear about the challenges they face. On Monday Aug. 21 President Maurer is scheduled to meet with President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.

Acts of love; Rwanda Red Cross mobilising local resources to support vulnerable people

Claudine Mukakabanda, 58, built her house with the help of her husband and was married with seven children before the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.

During the genocide she lost all people she cared for remaining with only one son whom she has lived with for the last 23 years.

With time, age and lack of employment, her house- located in Kacyiru sector, Gasabo district started getting demolished by heavy rains but she invested in small repairs until she gave up ten years ago.

“I tried my best to work on the house but I stopped because I was struggling to survive. Whenever it rained, I wouldn’t sleep, I only prayed worried that the house would fall on top of me in the night” Mukakabanda said.

Her concerns were notified to the community leaders but lack of finances deterred any effort to support her. She needed at least Rwf8million to repair her four roomed house.

“This concern was however addressed to Rwanda Red Cross (RRC) and she was selected among the genocide survivors to be helped during this genocide commemoration” said Emmanuel Kayijamahe, the Red Cross- Gasabo district coordinator.

“This morning, I was shocked when I saw Red Cross staff and community members bringing stones, sand and started to work on the house. I thought I was dreaming” Mukakabanda said.

Mukakabanda's is one of 60 widows of the Rwandan genocide that are being supported by Rwanda Red Cross in Kacyiru sector to help them deal with various factors of vulnerability including such as dilapidated shelter and access to water

Mukakabanda’s is one of 60 widows of the Rwandan genocide that are being supported by Rwanda Red Cross in Kacyiru sector to help them deal with various factors of vulnerability including such as dilapidated shelter and access to water

Led by Apollinaire Karamanga, the Rwanda Red Cross Secretary General, over 100 volunteers in Kigali city put their hands together to start reconstruction works on Mukakabanda’s home- located in Iriba cell,

The volunteers carried gravel stone, sand and laid a wall foundation around Mukakabanda’s house- which has walls that have for years been falling apart.

“Within a month, her house will not be the same again. Our volunteers and community members will make sure her house is completed so that she can be safe. Our intention is to improve people’s welfare and this is one of the many we intend to support throughout this year.” said Karamaga.

Rwanda Red Cross is part of the non-governmental organisations that have played a major role in supporting genocide survivors through Corporate Social Responsibility during the 100 days of this year’s genocide commemoration which started April 7th and ends in July.

So far the Red Cross has focused on supporting 60 genocide survivors in Kacyiru sector. In April, the organization rehabilitated houses belonging to genocide widows and donated tailoring equipment, food items and clean water sources.

Local Disaster Response teams of 15 sectors refreshed on disaster management and first aid

In efforts to reduce disaster risks and ensure timely response when calamity hits, Rwanda Red Cross has set up disaster response teams from the National, district to sector levels which are charged with day today management of disaster risks and response whenever need arises.

These teams are supported by regular training to ensure they are well positioned to deliver as expected and in this regard, Local Disaster Response Teams (LDRTs) of 15 sectors in the districts of GakenkeNgororero, Nyabihu, Karongi and Rutsiro received refresher training in disaster management and first aid skills.

In total, 300 volunteers who constitute the 15 disaster response teams participated in this training.

Contents of the training included largely disaster management skills with a greater focus on disaster risk reduction (DRR) which is implemented through Rwanda Red Cross’ Model Village approach that aims at empowering community resilience to economic and disaster shocks.

Skills imparted in DRR include mapping of local disaster risks, mobilizing community efforts to mitigate disaster risks, educating communities on how to reduce disaster risks and these constitute the responsibilities of the disaster response teams.

Rwanda Red Cross as a component of the Red Cross Movement has in the recent past strengthened its efforts in disaster risk reduction especially through efforts to build community resilience through socioeconomic empowerment of the most vulnerable people and other environmental protection efforts.

According to various studies by UN and IFRC on investing in disaster risk reduction, it is now believed that one dollar investment in disaster risk reduction saves between two to ten dollars that would otherwise be spent in response.

Besides skills in disaster management, participants received refresher on first aid skills which are essential in disaster response activities particularly in road accidents, household incidents like fire outbreaks and burns, and other injuries that may result from various factors.

Rwanda Red Cross conducts 6th General Assembly

The Rwanda Red Cross Society conducted its 6th General Assembly since its founding in 1964 on the 23rd of July 2016 under the theme “strengthening community resilience and disaster risk reduction.”

Under the constitution that governs the Rwanda Red Cross, a General Assembly, which is the most highly ranked body in the governance of this Rwandan society, is convened every four years to give general guidance on the day to day management and the society.

During the 6th General Assembly, management and governance structures represented the achievements of the past five years correlating to a five year strategic plan that will be completed at the end of the year.

Among other achievements, the Rwanda Red Cross was glad to note that the society was able to respond to most of the disasters that were experienced in Rwanda, supporting affected families with immediate emergency support in addition to post emergency recovery support.

In the area of recovery, the Rwanda Red Cross Secretary General Mr. Apollinaire Karamaga noted that the National Society manage to respond to the needs of Rwandans evicted from Tanzania in 2013, resettling people hit by natural disasters and resettling others from high-risk zones through construction of good quality housing.

Close to 2,000 houses were constructed with some examples including the 180 houses constructed in Bikingi village of Nyabihu District in the Western Province which benefited Rwandans who repatriated from DR Congo and lacked descent homes in addition to vulnerable families that were living in high-risk zones.

But more notably, the Rwanda Red Cross in the past five years directed a lot of energy in community resilience undertakings under its “Model village” approach. This is an integrated way of holistically empowering a community to address its vulnerabilities.

“We have 18 villages in each district meaning a total of 540 with which we are working towards building their capacities to solve their vulnerabilities. Activities in these villages are largely centred on mindset change and supporting vulnerable people to gain access to the economy through supporting livelihood support initiatives,” Karamaga notes.

For instance livestock are distributed to vulnerable families in efforts to help them get an income and fight feed insecurity. In the last five years, more than 8,000 livestock were distribute and thanks to the rotation scheme policy which requires a beneficiary to give to the next person on the first birth, more than 31,000 vulnerable households benefited and indeed their lives have been transformed significantly.

But aside management at the General Secretariat, the Rwanda Red Cross is on the national level governed by a committee of governors which is elected by the General Assembly.

Similarly during the 6th General Assembly, a new governing committee was elected to carry on the works that another which has been at the helm of the institution since 2008 and headed by Dr. Bernard Nzigiye as its President.

Speaking slightly before the election of new committee members, Dr. Nzigiye noted that some of the key policies that the committee he led placed greater emphasis included decentralization of Rwanda Red Cross structures, resource capacity development to facilitate the National Society to grow towards self-reliance (kwigira) and in recruiting capable leaders at decentralized levels and strong staff at the National Secretariat.

“The things I am glad for include the fact that today; Rwanda Red Cross not only depends on the support of others to finance its daily activities but also has managed to grow to an extent where it can meet some of its costs. This is the direction we strongly encouraged and we hope and no doubt it will continue towards self-reliance. It is only then that we will be able to sustainably support suffering Rwandans every time they need us for we will not be waiting upon foreign support alone.”

According to the constitution of the Rwanda Red Cross, a committee cannot be in office beyond two four-year terms and as such, the Rwanda Red Cross 6th General Assembly voted for new members who will be joined by representatives of the Ministries of Health and Local Government, a Treasurer General they will appoint, and the Secretary General of the Rwanda Red Cross to form the National Society’s 6th Governing Committee.

 

New Governing Committee of the Rwanda Red Cross Society

 

President ________________________________Dr. Bwito Paul

Vice President ___________________________ Ms. Mukandekezi  Froincoise

Secretary________________________________ Mr. Apollinaire Karamaga

Member of National Governing Committee (Kigali City) _ Ms. Uwamahoro M. Jose

Member of National Governing Committee (Western Province) _____Mr. Mazimpaka S. Emmanuel

Member of National Governing Committee (Northern Province) _____ Mr. Simango  Maxime

Member of National Governing Committee (Eastern Province) _______Ms. J. D’ArcMuhawenimana

Member of National Governing Committee (Southern Province) ______Mr. Sebaganwa Guillaume

 

Also, the board will have the representation of the Rwanda Red Cross youth wing President and Vice President who were elected last year by the youth General Assembly.

 

Youth President _____________________________________Ms. RubugaAllexia

Youth Vice President _________________________________ Mr. Majyambere Silas

Rwanda Red Cross distributes relief items to 499 households in Gakenke

Following a series of heavy rains that led to the loss of over 54 lives and destroyed more than 269 houses in Gakenke district, has this Tuesday in partnership with the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs distributed Nonfood items (NFIs) to 499 households hit by the disaster in Gakenke district.

 

The support offered to each of the households whose lives were harshly impacted by floods and mudslides included a tent for temporary shelter, two jerry cans, two blankets, two sleeping mats, a kitchen set, and soap, kitenge for women and clothes for children to help them in the short term.

 

69 year old Niyonsanga Emmanuel a widower with five children is among the beneficiaries of this distribution of NFIs which came in to support the most vulnerable people who have been left with nothing as a result of the floods and mudslides that hit Gakenke district.

“My whole house was washed away by the mudslides down the hill. Now without a place to call home, we will erect this tent that I have been given and sleep there while more solutions for the long term are sought. I am really grateful to the government and the Red Cross for being close to us from the very beginning of this disaster, I am really happy for the support given.”

 

Rwanda Red Cross volunteers have also been instrumental in rescue operations since the beginning of the catastrophe in the morning of 8th May 2016 from around 2:00 am in the morning.

 

Among other activities, volunteers supported the rescue of people who were stuck in house debris, trained swimmers in the local disaster response teams of the district helped rescue especially children and women who were drowning in the flood waters in addition to offering psychosocial support to families that lost loved ones to the disaster during burial ceremonies on Monday May 9th.

 

Gakenke sector which has so far recorded 211 houses that have completely been destroyed in addition to over 221 which were partially demolished and on the verge of total destruction was the most affected by these disasters in the district and victims from this sector have been lead targets for the Rwanda Red Cross support aimed at helping the most vulnerable.

 

The Executive Secretary of the sector Bisengimana Janvier noted that the NFI support given has been greatly needed by his residents.

 

“These (NFIs) are immediate needs which will help victims of these disasters to cope with what they are going through. We thank the Red Cross, government and all other partners for the immediate support, I recall that throughout the night of Saturday when the disaster begun, we were with Red Cross volunteers helping in the rescue operation.”

 

In a rapid assessment that the Rwanda Red Cross team on field is conducting, it has been noticed that there is great need for food since several food stores and plantations were washed away by mudslides, need for shelter in the short term and relocation of families from high risk zones in the medium term.

 

Also, 80 households that were greatly affected by similar disaster in Muhanga District in Rwanda’s Southern Province have also today  been given similar support by the Rwanda Red Cross in partnership with MIDMAR to help those most affected to cope with the challenges that have arose from the floods and mudslides that his the area.