- Human Rights & Role of Law
The IRC will deploy a gender-based violence specialist to coordinate an effective and appropriate response to violence against displaced women; future plans include opening drop-in centers for survivors. This is part of an emergency health care response and broader protection program aimed at counseling local officials on human rights issues and supporting local human rights groups.
One of the first tasks is to train human rights monitors who can interview victims and hopefully seek some sort of remedy through Sudanese legal system, the Sharia law of Islam, and the communal laws overseen by tribal elders. In all three systems, there are clear passages that deal with the safeguarding of human rights.
- Water/Sanitation/Hygiene Promotion
Well over a year has passed since the International Rescue Committee constructed a water treatment plant in the Chadian Sahel Desert, transforming the turbid, murky waters of Lake Cariari into clear, clean, drinking water. Each day now, the IRC provides water to the 30,000 refugees living in Kashuni Camp (also known as Oure Cassoni) in northeastern Chad, trucking 360,000 liters to 21 distribution points within the camp.
Informing people in the cramped and dusty camp about sanitation remains one of the most important jobs, and it is, in many ways, as challenging as making water in the desert. The IRC has trained a team of nearly 30 local sanitation workers who will spread the message of personal hygiene to the camp population.
Unlike in Darfur, where preschools are typically sturdy, brick structures, the preschools in Oure Cassoni refugee camp are simple constructions made of plastic sheeting and timber. But they are strong and withstand frequent sandstorms that whip into a furry within minutes and can last for hours or days. Blackboards, plastic mats, a table and two chairs, slates, notebooks, and water basins for hand-washing complete the sparse but functional furnishings. Toys and games have proved difficult to locate in Chad, but a shipment finally arrived last month.
That's just a sampling of what the I.R.C. does in the Darfur region. It's not just helping out there. They run an entire refugee camp in Chad, just across the Sudan-Chad border from Darfur.
You can donate money through their web site at http://www.theirc.org/donate. You can also mail a check to them (address displayed here). If you itemize deductions in the U.S., your contribution is tax-deductible.
And they put up copies of all their financial reports on the web site as well, so you can see where the money goes. Out of a total of about $160 million budget, they spent $5 million on fund raising and $10 million on administration. In other words, your money isn't going mostly to fundraisers pockets or to fat cat charity officers or directors, though a couple of the people running the group are highly paid in comparison to me. Though not in comparison to the officers of my employer. But that's a whole nother gripe.
Anyway, I think this is a highly effective group.