The recent violence in the Central African Republic (CAR), which continues to flare up across the country, has left hundreds of people dead and injured, and forced hundreds of thousands more to flee their homes, both within CAR and into neighbouring countries.
In the capital of Bangui, an estimated 40,000 people, including a large number of children, have found refuge at the airport, living in extremely desperate conditions, jam-packed into very narrow sites. They need everything: food, shelters and blankets. The wounded, sick, and pregnant women do not have access to health care.
The situation is further compounded by the limited access the internally displaced have to water and latrines. "The humanitarian situation in the country has forced close to one million people out of their homes. Half of them are in Bangui," says Antoine Mbao Bogo, President of the Central African Red Cross Society. "Diarrhoeal diseases and malaria are risks to which this population is exposed. Added to this, the lack of proper health care for the wounded and the sick. The humanitarian situation in CAR is unbearable."
The Central African Red Cross Society, with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), has responded by constructing 294 latrines on 14 sites, while at the same time, educating people about how to protect themselves from disease through proper handwashing, use of latrines and food conservation. "In addition to actions dedicated to hygiene and sanitation, we have 291 volunteers who are providing psychosocial support to those affected by the violence, first aid to the wounded, and the dissemination of messages on peace and non-violence," adds Mbao Bogo.
IFRC has allocated 245,476 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to support the National Society in providing assistance to 25,000 people affected by the crisis.
"About one quarter of our population is now extremely vulnerable. Most have lost everything," Mbao Bogo says. "With the upcoming raining season, these people will be more exposed to flooding and high winds, not to mention malaria which continues to cause havoc within families."
Malaria is the number one killer in CAR. The number of cases in the northwest of the country has almost doubled in the past year, partly because of insecurity in the area. As a preventative measure to help ward off the spread of the mosquito-borne disease, IFRC is moving up its planned implementation of a Global Fund grant to distribute 2.3 million long lasting insecticide-treated bed nets across the country. Interventions which were to begin in April are now scheduled to begin in the coming weeks.