First emergency supplies airlifted into Goma

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Supplies critical to curbing cholera and respiratory infections

The first four planes carrying supplies to curb cholera and respiratory infections have arrived in Goma.  These first supplies were sent from Dubai by the UK’s Department for International Development.  Six more planeloads of supplies from the UK and USA will be airlifted into Goma over the next four days.  The supplies will be distributed by UNICEF’s distribution partners Solidarités and the International Rescue Committee to tens of thousands of people who have recently fled their homes due to fighting in North Kivu. 

One million water purification tablets and thousands of buckets and plastic tarpaulin sheets are now being packaged for distribution.  The water purification tablets will provide clean drinking water to tens of thousands, the buckets will enable them to carry it with little risk of contamination, and the plastic sheets will in part be used to build emergency latrines. 

UNICEF DRC Representative Pierrette Vu Thi stated “These supplies will help contain the spread of cholera and diarrhea, both extremely contagious diseases on the rise in nearly all internally displaced person settlements in North Kivu.  We are extremely thankful for these supplies and others that will arrive shortly.  They are critical to help save and improve the lives of children affected in the conflict”.

Plastic sheets will also be distributed to displaced families to provide them with emergency shelter.  Thousands of children have been sleeping out in the open in wet, cold conditions and are at high risk of falling ill.  This minimal shelter will help to ward off diseases such as malaria and respiratory infections.  Malaria and respiratory infections are the number one and two killers of children in the DRC, respectively. 

Thousands of blankets and cooking sets will also arrive.  Blankets will help keep children warm at night and cooking sets will enable food to be cooked and eaten with sanitary utensils.    UNICEF with its partners continues reinforcing its emergency measles vaccinations, free health care, protection of children separated from their families, emergency access to education, and water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions for hundreds of thousands of people affected by the conflict.    

After more than a decade of insecurity and conflict, the suffering of children in eastern DRC continues at monumental levels.  Only with durable peace and stability can eastern DRC’s long suffering children have the guaranteed possibility to survive and realize their potential.  UNICEF calls on all armed groups and actors to give this possibility a chance, to respect all children’s rights enshrined in international law.

UNICEF has mounted one of its largest emergency humanitarian operations in the world in the DRC.  UNICEF and its network of operational partners is responding to the needs of internally displaced persons, returnees, and host communities with programs in health, nutrition, education, child protection, sexual violence, essential household items, and water, sanitation and hygiene. In order to respect the fundamental rights of Congolese children to survive and realize their potential, UNICEF advocates for sustainable peace and stability in the eastern DRC.