UNICEF and partners race to prevent disease outbreak among children in the Central African Republic
BANGUI, Central African Republic / DAKAR, Senegal / GENEVA, Switzerland, 8 January 2014 – An emergency vaccination campaign to reach over 210,000 children displaced by violence in Bangui is underway at major displacement sites in the capital.
At least seven cases of measles have been confirmed, three of them at a site by Bangui airport where about 100,000 people fleeing the violence are staying.
The integrated vaccination campaign includes immunization against measles and polio, with the addition of vitamin A supplementation, deworming medication, and screening for malnutrition.
“All the elements are present for a potentially deadly outbreak of disease – severely overcrowded camps, low immunity and extremely poor water and sanitation infrastructure,” said Souleymane Diabaté, UNICEF Representative in CAR. “This is a deadly combination for children. Unless we act now, we could have a disaster on our hands.”
Up to two-thirds of Bangui’s residents have been displaced by violence since early December. Over 935,000 have been displaced across the country over the past year. They seek shelter in a variety of locations which are not formal settlements and are often called displacement sites.
UNICEF is providing most of the vaccines, injection material, and operational costs, and will monitor the campaign as it unfolds over several days in dozens of sites across the city. Campaign partners supporting the Ministry of Health include the ICRC, the World Health Organization, Doctors without Borders (MSF), the CAR Red Cross, Merlin/Save the Children, International Medical Corps and Médecins du Monde.
In 2013, despite a steady and constant deterioration in security and humanitarian conditions, close to 500,000 children out of 800,000 children below five years of age were vaccinated against measles.
UNICEF reminds all parties of their legal obligation to protect children, and to enable the safe delivery of lifesaving humanitarian assistance.
UNICEF is the country’s major supplier of vaccines, therapeutic foods to treat child malnutrition, and water supplies. UNICEF leads the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; Nutrition; Education clusters, and the Child Protection sub-cluster. The UNICEF CAR team includes over 100 staff, supported by around 40 emergency support personnel.
UNICEF CAR’s appeal for emergency operations in 2014 is for $62 million. Last year, despite steadily worsening humanitarian conditions, UNICEF received just half of the $32 million requested.
For more information, please contact:
Laurent Duvillier, UNICEF WCARO,
Marixie Mercado, UNICEF Geneva (on mission in Bangui),
Kate Donovan, UNICEF New York,