With increasing displacement in the Central African Republic (CAR) and waning funding, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) today warned that the growing needs will exceed emergency supplies in the coming weeks.
"Wherever our mobile teams go, they are seeing more people displaced by violence," said Bob McCarthy, UNICEF Emergency Coordinator in CAR.
Since September 2013, the number of people forced to flee their homes has almost doubled with an estimated 394,000 now displaced.
"We just arrived two days ago," said 31-year-old farmer, Jean-de-Dieu, while setting up a makeshift shelter with plastic sheeting provided by UNICEF for his wife and five children in one of the displacement sites in Bossangoa.
"We feel safer here than in the bush. Our huts were burned down and our cattle were stolen. We fled with nothing except some pots and cassava leaves."
The UN agency urgently needs $3 million in additional funds for emergency relief items like blankets, mosquito nets, jerry cans and soap for 55,000 internally displaced persons (IDP) in the country over the next six months.
Since August, more than 44,000 displaced people have received plastic sheeting, blankets, mosquito nets, jerry cans, hygiene kits and soap with UNICEF support.
"We are delivering essential medicines to restart emergency healthcare and safe water to families in displacement sites such as Bossangoa," said Mr. McCarthy. "Simple items like jerry cans make a big difference in allowing people to transport and store water where they live. Any delay or disruption in the delivery of basic yet essential supplies puts displaced people and young children increasingly at risk of diarrhoea and other diseases."
Plagued by decades of instability and fighting, the country witnessed a resumption of violence last December when the Séléka rebel coalition launched a series of attacks. A peace agreement was reached in January, but the rebels again seized the capital, Bangui, in March, forcing President François Bozizé to flee.
There is now a transitional government, headed by Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye, entrusted with restoring law and order and paving the way for democratic elections. But armed clashes in the north-east have increased since the beginning of August, and the country is facing a dire humanitarian situation that affects the entire population of some 4.6 million.
In addition, there are continued reports of gross human rights violations since the Séléka coalition seized power in March 2013, including the deliberate killing of civilians, acts of sexual violence against women and children, and the destruction and looting of property, including hospitals, schools and churches.