GENEVA, Switzerland, February 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — With the situation in the Central African Republic continuing to deteriorate, and the lives of hundreds of thousands of people at risk, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is today launching an emergency appeal to provide urgent assistance to those affected by the violence.
“There are now an estimated 714,000 people forced from their homes within the country,” says Antoine Mbao Bogo, President Central African Red Cross Society. “More than one-third of them are finding refuge in dozens of camps in the capital of Bangui. The largest camp at the airport is currently housing more than 70,000 people. They are living in very precarious conditions with little access to food, clean water or proper sanitation facilities. With the rainy season almost upon us, we absolutely need to act now if we are to ward off the spread of acute diarrhoea and water-borne diseases such as cholera.”
The emergency appeal seeks 1,136,640 Swiss francs in funding to improve the living conditions of 50,000 people over the course of the next year (Central African Republic Civil Unrest Emergency Appeal). Activities will include the construction of 500 latrines in camps and schools, hygiene promotion, and an advocacy campaign to foster peace between communities.
Volunteers with the Central African Red Cross Society will also continue providing psychosocial support to help people cope with the violence they have experienced, both directly and indirectly, including arranging playtime activities for children. Volunteers themselves have witnessed atrocities while carrying out their daily duties, and they have taken their toll. When violence broke out in December, the local Red Cross had a team of 600 active volunteers in Bangui. That number has now been halved, as volunteers succumb to the stress of collecting dead bodies; almost 1,000 at last count. IFRC has deployed a psychosocial support delegate to the country to provide support to the Red Cross teams.
“The current security situation makes it extremely difficult for our volunteers and staff to implement a full scale response. It is simply too dangerous for them to venture too far from home base,” says Mbao Bogo. “We are therefore tailoring our response to ensure we can help the most people, and have the most impact, while keeping our own people safe.”
“There are hundreds of thousands of innocent people, fathers, mothers, grandparents and children, who are caught in this spiral of civil unrest,” says Jean-Pierre Taschereau, IFRC head of emergency operations in Central Africa Republic. “They are hungry and in need of emergency food distributions. If insecurity prevents farmers from planting their crops in the coming months, the current food insecurity being faced by 25 per cent of the population will be even more exacerbated. We cannot afford to turn our backs on them.”
As the violence continues with little sign of abating, thousands of people are crossing borders in search of safety in neighbouring countries. IFRC has released 140,756 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to support the Red Cross of Chad (Chad Population Movement DREF) in assisting 10,555 Chadian nationals who have returned home. Plans are also underway to support a further 21,600 refugees from Central African Republic who have moved into Cameroon, as well as those refugees who have entered Democratic Republic of the Congo.
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