Central African Republic: Delivering emergency aid before the rains arrive

By International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
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Central African Republic: Delivering emergency aid before the rains arrive

GENEVA, Switzerland, May 31, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- With the rainy season approaching, the ICRC has been delivering food aid and seed, and seeing to it that people are provided with health care.

With security still not fully restored in Bangui, the already difficult daily lives of the inhabitants of other parts of the country have worsened considerably over the past five months. Simply going to school or to a health centre, or to farmlands or the market has become more difficult. With the rainy season approaching, the ICRC has been delivering emergency aid and setting up mobile medical teams in some rural communities in the centre and north of the country since 18 May.

"Some families no longer have grain reserves, which were stolen or destroyed in the violence. Others can no longer go work their fields, which they had to leave behind as they fled the turmoil," said Georgios Georgantas, head of the ICRC delegation in the Central African Republic. "We have to expect that their situation will be further complicated by the arrival of the rainy season, which will make it difficult to move about for the next four months."

"Reaching the places people have fled to, in the bush, far from everything, despite the dangers along the way is a daily challenge," said Mr Georgantas. "Fortunately, the incipient improvement in security that has been observed these past few days along the main roads is enabling us to go where these people are. Given the scope of the needs, however, that's still far from enough."

In Ndélé and in towns around Kaga-Bandoro, food aid consisting of corn, niébé (a kind of bean), cooking oil and salt will be provided for almost 20,000 people for a month. Peanut, sesame, corn and sorghum seed will also be provided together with some farming tools in order to help the people resume planting.

More than 250 families that recently lost their homes will be given basic supplies to help them get back on their feet again. Among other things, they will receive clothing, blankets, mosquito nets, kitchen supplies, tarpaulins and soap – simple items that have become very precious for families that have nothing.

"Access to care has worsened considerably in the city of Kaga-Bandoro, and the situation is even more serious in remote areas of Nana-Gribizi prefecture," said Mr Georgantas. "Women are giving birth in the bush, and men, women and children are dying of minor illnesses for want of treatment."

With ICRC support, local health personnel can now reach people settled along trails linking the towns of Kaga-Bandoro, Mbrès, Ouandago and Dissikou, and provide them with essential health care.

In parallel, Central African Red Cross Society volunteers together with the ICRC continue to administer first aid to victims of the armed violence and to transfer the people most seriously injured to functioning medical facilities, in the capital as in the provinces.

Ever since the capital was shaken by armed violence at the end of March, and especially with the disruption of public services that followed, access to basic services for inhabitants of Bangui has been considerably reduced.

The ICRC has brought in 190 tonnes of water-treatment products from Cameroon, and the capital's distribution network of drinking water is now functioning properly.

Since 23 March:

● nearly 800 casualties have been provided with first aid by Central African Red Cross Society emergency personnel;

● over 200 of the most seriously injured people have been taken to medical facilities in Bangui and in the provinces;

● the ICRC has been continuing its dialogue with the authorities on the need to uphold humanitarian principles in their dealings with civilians and detainees;

● in Birao, in the far north of the country, a malaria prevention project has begun. In addition, access to water continues to improve with six wells being upgraded or sunk;

● the ICRC has maintained its presence in Bangui, Kaga-Bandoro, Ndélé and Birao, and in the south-east (Moki, Obo, Rafaï and Zemio).