NEW YORK (December 9, 2013) – UNICEF has distributed emergency medical supplies to hospitals in Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic, following clashes in recent days that have left hundreds dead and thousands more displaced.
“Every day, we are seeing more and more children injured and killed at the hospital,” said Souleymane Diabate, UNICEF Central African Republic Representative. “Children in the Central African Republic, both Muslim and Christians, are not safe. They are in danger of being injured or killed in their homes, in their communities, and even at displacement sites. This is totally unacceptable.”
As of Monday morning, the local Red Cross had reported that nearly 400 people had been killed, including three children, since last Thursday. Preliminary reports gathered by UNICEF have identified about 30 children with bullet or machete wounds at the Community Hospital and Pediatric Center in Bangui.
In fear for their lives, some 60,000 people, mainly women and children, fled their homes and have sought refuge in more than 20 sites around Bangui. Thousands of displaced families are still in urgent need of access to shelter, safe water, sanitation, protection food and emergency health services, and are at high risk of deadly diseases.
On Saturday, two days after clashes broke out in Bangui, UNICEF provided essential medical supplies sufficient for 3,000 people to the Community Hospital, where most injured people are being treated.
On Sunday, UNICEF teams distributed emergency health supplies for 1,000 children to the Bangui Pediatric Center, the only children’s hospital in the country, where many child victims have been admitted. UNICEF has also supported the provision of clothing to child survivors and electric fans for hospital rooms.
“It’s the first time that something like this happened to me, to us”, said Kelley, 17, who is being treated at the hospital for a gunshot to the chest, sustained while he was walking to school last Thursday. “I’m worried for my family, my friends, and my country.”
In areas where UNICEF is able to gain access, the organization and its humanitarian partners are scaling up activities to provide violence-affected families with emergency assistance.
A UNICEF humanitarian cargo flight carrying emergency health kits, nutrition supplies and other life-saving items for 3,000 families, is expected to arrive in Bangui in the next few days.
UNICEF has been working in Central African Republic since 1968. Today, UNICEF has 150 staff members with offices in Bangui, Bossongoa, and Kaga Bandoro and mobile teams in Bossangoa and Kaga Bandoro. The organization will also open an office soon in Bambari, In 2013, UNICEF and its partners vaccinated more than 480,000 children under five against measles. More than 47,000 displaced people—especially in Bossangoa—received blankets, plastic sheeting, soap and jerry cans provided by UNICEF. About 84,000 people now have access to safe water.
UNICEF has received less than half of the funds required to cover humanitarian needs in Central African Republic for 2013, as of the end of November. UNICEF is appealing for $46 million to respond to crisis-affected children in the Central African Republic for 2014.
UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. Working in more than 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health care, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency relief, and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.
UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. There has been substantial progress: the annual number of under-five deaths dropped from more than 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010. But still, 21,000 children die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.
For additional information, please contact:
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, firstname.lastname@example.org