NEW YORK (January 29, 2013) — UNICEF is working with its partners to provide emergency relief after weeks of conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) left 800,000 people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
With the situation stabilizing, the priority is to reach communities that have been without adequate food, medicine, water, sanitation, hygiene, education and protection.
UNICEF aims to provide emergency water and sanitation, nutrition assistance and non-food items for families uprooted by the crisis. To scale up the immediate response, some 17 tons of supplies, including medicine, water purification tablets, therapeutic food, cooking sets, tarpaulins, mosquito nets and other essential household items have arrived in CAR by air; another 52 tons will be arriving by road this week.
Currently, UNICEF is able to respond to the needs of 45,000 people. Some $2.1 million is needed immediately to support the emergency response, and an estimated $11.5 million is needed to sustain emergency lifesaving assistance for 1.79 million people in 2013.
“We urge all actors to unite to work for the benefit of their people, especially children,” said Souleymane Diabaté, UNICEF representative for the Central African Republic. “From what we have seen in some of the hardest hit areas including N’dele, Bria, Bombari, and Kaga Bandoro, children are living in extremely precarious conditions. It is critical we reach them now with immediate assistance, but we urge all parties involved to make long-term welfare an urgent priority and a critical part of any political settlement.”
Even before the recent outbreak of fighting, CAR was one of the poorest countries in the world, ranked 179 out of 187 on the Human Development Index. It has the ninth highest rate of child mortality in the world. In conflict-affected areas, only 48% of children, and just 42% of girls, are enrolled in school, and there are as many as 90 pupils per teacher in some schools. New recruitments of children by armed groups are taking place.
Although nearly all offices of the UN and non-governmental organizations in areas controlled by the Seleka rebel group were looted, there has been some improvement in humanitarian access to affected populations in the past week.
With existing services paralyzed in many parts of the country due to insecurity, UNICEF is working with government ministries and other partners to assist children at risk of separation, trafficking, sexual exploitation and recruitment. The organization is providing support to at-risk women and girls and survivors of gender-based violence; and preventing child mortality by providing medical support, including emergency health kits and surgical kits, diarrhea response supplies, vaccines, and treatment for severe acute malnutrition.
Alongside its partners, UNICEF is also improving access to safe water and sanitation; expanding hygiene promotion efforts through schools, health facilities, and temporary learning centers; providing support to displaced communities; helping provide shelter and essential items; and ensuring children resume or regain access to quality education in safe schools and temporary learning spaces.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, 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. Together, we are working toward the day when ZERO children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.