UNICEF urgently request US$2,450,000 million to attend children and women affected by a humanitarian crisis in Colombia
Bogotá, August 2012 - Heavy rains and consequently flooding, in addition to the vulnerabilities caused by the armed conflict in the department of Putumayo located on the southwest of Colombia, have caused a humanitarian crisis affecting nearly 16,500 families (74,000 persons, of which 29,600 are children).
The floods have aggravated existing vulnerabilities and the communities in these areas are frequently victims of antipersonnel landmine and unexploded ordnance accidents. Children are exposed to recruitment, abuse, sexual exploitation and the schools are occupied by illegal armed groups.
Between the months of January – June 2012, the landmine and UXO civilian casualty rates in Putumayo have increased 200% in comparison with 2011, according to official sources. Communities are reporting a highly increased presence of landmines in 4 of 13 municipalities, a significant amount of them in the areas affected by the flooding. Forty-two schools in 10 municipalities of 13 are reported to be affected by the presence of landmines and unexploded ordnances.
Many children are not attending classes due to the fear of landmines. The presence of these devices is causing confinement among the population living in the affected areas. Limited mobility and impact on socioeconomic activity is causing food shortages and difficulties for humanitarian assistance.
The provision of public health services in the affected areas is practically non-existent, or has been severely affected by the emergency and the armed conflict. The area is endemic for malaria.
Water, sanitation and hygiene conditions have been seriously affected. Even before the floods, water infrastructure in the rural areas was lacking. Virtually no riverside community has safe drinking water, and the floods have worsened the original dire conditions in the rural communities affected by the floods. Some water sources are contaminated by crude oil spill on the Guaumez River. In Puerto Asis, the aqueduct in the urban area of the municipality covers only the 30 per cent of the population, while the remaining 70 per cent uses cisterns.
In the urban area of Puerto Asis education has been interrupted for 1,600 students as a result of this and, 9 educational centers and 10 boarding schools have been damaged, preventing 1,969 students to attend classes.Most of the rural school infrastructure has been damaged by the flooding or is currently being used as shelters for displaced families. However, it will be necessary to provide children with adequate educational materials and is critical to support their psychosocial health and providing them with a sense of normalcy in the aftermath of emergencies.
UNICEF is requesting US$2,450 million to cover key interventions in the areas of protection, education water, sanitation and hygiene, health and nutrition throughout the affected areas over the coming six months.
“The impact of this emergency in children is double as hostility and the effects of the flooding are causing them fear to step on a landmine or to be recruited. The constant sense of insecurity and anxiety is also affecting children as they feel threaten to lose their parents” said UNICEF deputy Representative Viviana Limpias.
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