ABIDJAN, 12 April 2011 – UNICEF has been able to deliver supplies in the embattled city of Abidjan in Cote D'Ivoire for the first time in weeks. The supplies included medicine, nutritional supplements, soap and blankets. The agency is also preparing for its first airlift since the fighting begun as 32 metric tons of humanitarian supplies are due to land in the coming days.
"While a certain level of insecurity still exists in Abidjan, we are hopeful we can move ahead with ramping up our humanitarian operation in Abidjan and elsewhere in the country where it is needed. Our most urgent priorities are to re-establish safe water systems and deliver critical health supplies. We intend to resume emergency immunization campaigns to prevent disease outbreaks especially amongst children who are the most vulnerable," said Herve Ludovic de lys, UNICEF representative in Abidjan.
"We plan a big expansion of our operation in Cote D'Ivoire along with our humanitarian partners and the Government, to restore access and cover those in need of life-saving supplies. But this will not be possible without sufficient funding and we are seriously under-funded at the moment. Without fresh funding, this humanitarian operation will not happen to the extent it needs to and children will suffer," said Mr. de Lys.
UNICEF is supporting children who have witnessed violence and possibly seen family members killed or injured. These children need special care now and in the future, says the agency, which is working to get children back to school as soon as conditions permit.
UNICEF is preparing a distribution of school kits for over 600 schools across the country.
According to UNICEF, many cities across the country are running out of safe drinking water and it is working to get water treatment supplies to those cities. In addition, the agency says there is a high risk of measles and cholera outbreaks and preparations are underway to resume immunisations as quickly as possible. Shortages of essential medicines are critical. In the north of the country, stocks are sufficient for between two weeks to a month.
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:
Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York,
Tel + 1 212 326 7426,