Emergency aid vitally needed to save lives in Central African Republic – UNICEF

Emergency aid vitally needed to save lives in Central African Republic – UNICEF

Mia Farrow takes notes as displaced people recount stories of atrocities
Emergency international aid “of the most urgent kind” is needed to avert massive suffering and death in the Central African Republic (CAR), where armed militias and bandits have burned and ransacked villages, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee into the bush to hide from attacks, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned.

Emergency international aid “of the most urgent kind” is needed to avert massive suffering and death in the Central African Republic (CAR), where armed militias and bandits have burned and ransacked villages, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee into the bush to hide from attacks, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned.

“They have no clothes, no shelter, no food, no blankets, no access to clean water, and most of all they are completely traumatized, living in the terror of further attacks,” UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow said after a four-day mission to northern areas of the country, where 212,000 people are estimated to have been uprooted.

“Denying that a humanitarian crisis exists will result in the deaths of many children within a few months,” said UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Esther Guluma who accompanied Ms. Farrow. “If we are to avert suffering and death on a massive scale in these areas UNICEF has to accelerate its activities, along with the government, our UN partners and the few NGOs (non-governmental organizations) on the ground.

“We have to act now on this situation in CAR, since there are already thousands of refugees who have fled across the country’s western border with Chad; the risk here is that the looming crisis will exacerbate the already extremely fragile humanitarian situation in the entire region,” she added.

She stressed the need for health care, mobile clinics, water pumps, household equipment, seeds and tools to re-start farming, and help to return children to school.

“Above all the people need protection; they told me their greatest wish is for peace to rebuild their lives,” Ms. Farrow said.

In the accelerated emergency phase now underway, relief supplies have started arriving in Bangui, the capital. The first air shipment of thousands of tarpaulins, jerry cans and blankets, a gift of the American people worth $175,000, landed on Friday, and will be immediately trucked to the afflicted people of Birao, on the country’s north eastern border with Sudan.

Ms. Farrow’s mission was designed to bring attention to the country’s plight and the need for urgent international support. She is now visiting Chad. Some 1 million people are affected by the conflict in CAR, the sixth least developed country in the world, with indicators for maternal and child mortality, already very poor, now on a continuing decline.