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UNICEF and Mia Farrow draw attention to critical needs of children in looming humanitarian crisis in Central African Republic

BANGUI/DAKAR, 19 February 2007 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow and UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Esther Guluma, concluded a trip to Central African Republic (CAR) in calling on the international community, in the strongest terms, for recognition of the need for emergency assistance of the most urgent kind.

Their four-day mission took them through landscapes of empty, burned and ransacked villages whose people have fled into the bush to hide from attacks by the armed militias and bandits who roam the country.  Farrow and Guluma witnessed the deteriorating health status of displaced people, currently estimated at 212,000.

“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,”  Farrow said.

“Denying that a humanitarian crisis exists will result in the deaths of many children within a few months,”  Guluma underlined. “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 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.”

Guluma 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.

Farrow added, “Above all the people need protection; they told me their greatest wish is for peace to rebuild their lives.”
 
In the accelerated emergency phase now underway, relief supplies have started arriving at Bangui’s airport: the first air shipment, 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.

Mia Farrow was in CAR from 10-16 February, visiting UNICEF-assisted projects in Bangui, the capital, and on mission to the remote northern areas. Her mission was designed to bring attention to the country’s plight and the need for urgent international support, as well as calling for stabilizing the current situation of widespread and deteriorating insecurity. She is now visiting Chad.

Some one 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, and now on a continuing downward decline.

About UNICEF

UNICEF is on the ground in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:

Anne Boher, UNICEF CAR: Tel + 236 98 44 44, aboher@unicef.org

Chantal Lorho, UNICEF Regional Office for West and Central Africa: Tel: 221 869 76 54, clorho@unicef.org

Rafael Hermoso, UNICEF Media, New York: Tel + (1) 212 326 7516, rhermoso@unicef.org


 

 

 

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