Central African Republic: Living conditions still harsh for displaced in Bangui

By International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Listen to article

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 20, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Several tens of thousands of displaced people continue to take refuge at sites set up for them in Bangui, where sanitary conditions are poor. The ICRC and the Central African Red Cross Society are maintaining their aid effort in the capital and throughout the country.

"Displaced people fear having armed men around them," said Georgios Georgantas, head of the ICRC delegation in the Central African Republic. "We are extremely worried about the recent increase in inter-community tensions, which have been exacerbated by people carrying weapons, who contribute to the climate of fear pervading the country."

"The authorities must do everything they can to protect the population," he said. "Over the past two days, the ICRC has conducted a medical evacuation of 10 people suffering from injuries, 10 children with malaria and five expectant mothers. A five-person ICRC surgical team is set to arrive in Bangui within days. They'll take over from a Médecins Sans Frontières team working at the community hospital and provide treatment for 60 sick and 109 injured patients receiving care there."

"Our staff want to bring aid to everyone who needs it, regardless of the community they belong to," he added. "The priority is to save lives and to care for the injured, but other activities can also help calm the situation." The ICRC is carrying on with its visits to places accommodating displaced people in order to determine to what extent they need help restoring contact with family members.

Improving hygiene and medical care

The ICRC is pressing ahead with its aid for the neediest in Bangui, in particular by promoting better hygiene. At a site at the airport where 35,000 displaced people have gathered, the ICRC has set up 11 taps connected to the municipal water network and three water tanks fitted with a total of 24 taps. In addition, it sends two trucks there every day to deliver clean drinking water. Central African Red Cross volunteers have built 43 latrines at the site, including 16 for children.

Near the Boy-Rabe monastery, where 15,000 people have taken refuge, 24 taps connected to the municipal water network have been installed. "At the two sites, Red Cross volunteers provide information about how to improve hygiene with the aim of reducing the risk of disease, especially diarrhoea in children," said Bonaventure Bazirutwabo, the ICRC's health coordinator in the city. The ICRC is also providing water for the community hospital and Castor maternity hospital.

Significant needs outside the capital

Elsewhere, especially in the west and north-west of the country, people continue to suffer from the absence of security resulting from never-ending outbursts of violence. The Central African Red Cross has buried 40 bodies in Bossangoa.

Around Kaga Bandoro, in the centre of the country, two ICRC mobile clinics are providing basic health care for people still taking refuge in the bush. Over the past week, the staff of the clinics have seen almost 700 patients, mainly pregnant women or children under the age of five, most of whom are afflicted with malaria.

In the north-east, the ICRC is providing the entire city of Ndélé with water. It produces around 250,000 litres every day to meet the needs of more than 10,000 people.

In addition, over the past week, the ICRC has:

● finished building fences around the main hospitals in Birao and Kaga Bandoro in order to better protect patients, medical staff and the facilities themselves;

● organized information sessions on the rules of international humanitarian law for Central African and Chadian personnel of the tripartite force in Birao;

● urgently distributed food to women held in the Bimbo detention centre, near Bangui;

● organized screening for malaria for 85 people in Birao and for a combined total of 234 in Obo and Rafai;

● carried on the fight in Ndélé against cassava mosaic virus disease, which causes the plant to lose its leaves and stunts its tubers.