United Nations agencies are rushing aid to the Central African Republic (CAR) to forestall an outbreak of diseases and are appealing for substantial international funding after devastating floods swept the capital, Bangui, ruining over 2,500 homes, affecting nearly 20,000 people, and threatening even worse destruction.
“Focus must be placed on the prevention of epidemics,” UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative Joseph Foumbi said. UN agencies have already provided therapeutic high-nutrition biscuits, water purification tablets, jerry cans for clean water, and petrol lamps, which have been distributed through the national Red Cross.
The UN World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF are currently evaluating the needs for vaccination against measles for children under five, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health. WHO and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) will provide medical kits catering to 10,000 patients over a period of three months.
“We are very concerned. August is only the start of the rainy season, expected to last until November,” UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) representative Souleymane Beye said.
UN agencies have stocks of blankets and water jerry cans ready for distribution, and are in the process of acquiring additional resources focusing on clean water provision.
“A more permanent solution is required in order to prevent floods. In the medium to long term, there will be a need to accommodate the dwellers of those areas in a more suitable location or, to the extent possible, to urbanize the affected areas and build or refurbish the water drainage system,” Mr. Beye added.
The CAR Government and national Red Cross have asked the UN to provide food, medicines, kitchen utensils, mosquito nets, clothing, blankets, sanitation materials, as well as construction materials for emergency rehabilitation.
The UN has contacted various donor governments in the hope of mobilizing funds, OCHA said in a news release.
“As a deterioration of the situation is highly probable, UN agencies are striving to take all necessary measures, to be in a position to provide additional aid if new floods occur,” it added.