DAKAR/GENEVA, 18 January 2011 – UNICEF is calling on leaders in Côte d’Ivoire to ensure that all children are protected from violence, that they have continued access to health services and are able to go to school, during what continues to be a volatile political situation. The present tragedy would be compounded if ongoing political instability resulted in diseases left untreated, children being exploited or missing school.
In any crisis or emergency, children are the most vulnerable. National and community leaders in Côte d’Ivoire must ensure that those responsible for the well being of children are able to work and that children are not placed in the front line of political action.
UNICEF and its partners are responding to the needs of those displaced within the country, in addition to those who have crossed the borders into Liberia and Guinea. Over 28,000 Ivoirians, more than 75 per cent of whom are children and women, have sought refuge in neighboring communities in Liberia, where host communities were already struggling to meet their own food, shelter, water, sanitation, and health care needs.
In Côte d’Ivoire, UNICEF has already dispatched 20 tons of relief supplies in the West to assist people in need. A national yellow fever campaign is also being prepared to counter an outbreak that is affecting two districts of the country and has already claimed the lives of 25 people since the end of October 2010.
Food costs have risen steeply in the western region of Côte d’Ivoire since the start of the crisis. Over the long term, this may affect the nutritional status of children from the poorest families who are being forced to use up reserves.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 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 more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For more information, please contact:
Martin Dawes, Regional Chief of Communications UNICEF West and Central Africa,
Tel +221 33 869 58 42, Cell +221 77 569 19 26,
Louis Vigneault, UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire Communication Chief,
Tel +225 21 21 18 12,