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UNICEF flies emergency aid to conflict-stricken Central African Republic

2013-04-09

BANGUI, Central African Republic/DAKAR/GENEVA, 9 April 2013 – A special UNICEF-chartered flight carrying over 23 tonnes of essential drugs, obstetric supplies and water tanks arrived yesterday in conflict-ravaged Central African Republic capital city of Bangui, two weeks after the seizure of power by an armed rebellion. 

The consignment represents one of the first significant deliveries of relief supplies to the Central African Republic following recent weeks of insecurity and looting in which hospitals and health facilities incurred serious losses of medical supplies, equipment and furnishings. 

The emergency medical kits carried on this flight will be used to treat about 200,000 people affected by the conflict for the next three months. Twelve water tanks with distribution kits to secure water provision at the main hospitals and health centres in the capital Bangui and other areas as they become accessible were also on the flight. Secure arrangements have been made to ensure safe receipt and temporary storage of these life-saving items.

“This delivery represents a vital step in enabling children and the population at large to regain basic access to medical care,” said Souleymane Diabate, UNICEF’s Representative in Bangui. “However, this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of needs. So much has been lost in the looting in a country where children already face some of the most difficult survival conditions in the world.” 

Since the coup d’etat on 24 March, UNICEF has delivered 81 tonnes of emergency supplies to partners, and specifically essential drugs and medical equipment for over 60,000 people to health partners operating at hospitals and health centres.

This is the second plane loaded with emergency supplies chartered by UNICEF this year. The first UNICEF flight brought over 14 tonnes of essential medicines and emergency supplies to Bangui on the 24 January.

UNICEF, other UN agencies and many NGOs operating in the country had their offices, vehicles and warehouses looted during the period of the collapse of the Bozize government and arrival of the Seleka rebel coalition in late March.

 “The supplies will be selectively distributed to health partners who have the capacity to undertake care and treatment of those most in need starting with main hospitals and health facilities,” Diabate added. “The new government has pledged its cooperation with these efforts.”

UNICEF now estimates that the entire population of the Central African Republic, about 4.6 million people including over 2.3 million children, is directly affected by the conflict due to the collapse of services and law and order. 

Only 13 per cent of the emergency funding needs out of US$172 million required for the humanitarian community have been received. It is anticipated that the needs will increase in light of the most recent developments. UNICEF estimates an immediate funding gap to meet urgent humanitarian needs over the next six months of over US$11 million.

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About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries – more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.