© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-2803/Asselin

A girl carries a boy in Djambala, where UNICEF participated in polio vaccination campaigns in late 2010 during the country’s deadly polio outbreak. The epidemic was centred around the port city of Pointe-Noire.

Children and women in crisis

In 2010, more than 114,000 people fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo to shelter in the Congo.1 Although arrival of refugees seems to have stabilized since May, there is currently no foreseeable timetable for safe return due to ongoing political strife and violence in their home country. Refugees in the Congo, of whom an estimated 80 per cent are women and children,2 live in conditions that increase the risk of undernutrition and illness. Limited access to water, hygiene and sanitation facilities for many refugees creates an opening for the spread of waterborne diseases. Recurrent floods also take their toll: Thousands of children have a hard time getting to school, and around 350,000 people are at risk of cholera.3 In November 2010, the Congo experienced a deadly outbreak of wild poliovirus, with nearly all cases reported from the port city of Pointe Noire. By early December, 498 cases and 209 deaths had been reported, mainly among young adults. Logistical constraints related to climate, limited air access and minimal air cargo access to some areas make providing humanitarian relief in the Congo extremely difficult.

Meeting urgent needs and building resilience in 2011

Although the cluster approach has not been formally adopted in the Congo, within the UN country team UNICEF is the agreed sector lead in WASH, while it coordinates the education sector with UNESCO and provides significant support in the education and protection sectors. In 2011, UNICEF will continue to work with the Government of the Congo, other UN agencies and NGOs in addressing the needs of 210,000 people, including 80,095 boys and 74,375 girls.

Humanitarian funding at work: Highlights from 2010

In 2010, UNICEF estimated US$5,973,032 was needed for aid in the Congo. As of October 2010, US$1,995,016 had been received, or 33 per cent of the goal, partly through two rounds of UN Central Emergency Response Fund grants. With these funds, UNICEF provided essential drugs and equipment for safe childbirth and basic surgical interventions to benefit 2,400 refugee women and 12,000 children. Successful treatment of severe acute malnutrition was provided in 30 health centres. Out of 18 wells planned in Betou, Dongou and Impfondo, 15 were completed. UNICEF supported the education of 8,593 preschool-age refugee children by providing 102 school, 72 recreational and 60 early childhood development kits. UNICEF pre-positioned protection packages consisting of kits for HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to assist women and children who are survivors of violence, reunification kits to facilitate reunification of families in case of separation and recreational materials for children and women.

Funding requirements for 2011

UNICEF is requesting US$4,830,000 to carry out its planned activities for the Congo in 2011. Prompt response on behalf of donors to the desperate needs of women and children will assist in improving their well-being and development.

More information on details on achievements of 2010 and the humanitarian action planned for the Congo in 2011 can be found at www.unicef.org/hac2011.

1 UNHCR, “UNHCR gains access to 35,000 refugees in RoC”, 4 May 2010. See http://www.unhcr.org/4be00db16.html
2 UNHCR, “UN seeking funding for tens of thousands of Congo refugees”, 9 March 2010. See http://www.unhcr.org/4b9626669.html
3 Some quarters of Brazzaville and Pointe Noire, and three districts located in Pool and Bouenza are considered as at risk for cholera. Population figures are from the 2007 census, preliminary results.

UNICEF Emergency Needs for 2011 (in US dollars) Total $4,830,000