Under the noise of the machine gun fire a new situation is silently emerging in the embattled Ivory Coast, which is threatening the lives of children and adults.
“The situation in Cote d'Ivoire is not just about political deadlock; it is a situation where the entire population of 20 million people could be affected if the current humanitarian crisis escalates into a full blown emergency,” says UNICEF's spokesman in Ivory Coast, Louis Vigneault.
The first signs are emerging diseases not associated with war. These are now threatening more than 1.5 million children and adults.
"There are already outbreaks of yellow fever, measles and cholera in Abidjan. It is very unusual for cholera to surface during the dry season and we are concerned that power cuts in other parts of the country will reduce access to clean water and sanitation spreading the risk of epidemic to even more people."
UNICEF has launched a massive campaign to reach children, pregnant women and other vulnerable groups across the country. UNICEF has also treated over 500 patients with cholera, avoiding a spread of the disease outside of Abidjan.
Vaccination for measles, yellow fever, polio and tetanus are being rolled out. Children in the southern region are already being treated for yellow fever, measles and diarrhoea.
With the fighting affecting the normal availability of food, malnutrition is also on the increase – three times higher than normal in some parts of the country.
UNICEF has provided high-protein biscuits to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the southern part of the country and Abidjan and has set up water points, nutrition treatment centres and temporary schools for IDPs in Man to the west.
UNICEF and partners have initiated rehabilitation work of latrines in Man. A central alert system was set up to identify areas where people are in dire need of help and ensure rapid intervention to provide life saving assistance. A plan is also being developed to avoid disruption of water supply during power cuts as one of the methods of preventing disease taking hold and creating a new emergency.
Donations to UNICEF's children emergency fund can be made via www.unicef.org.uk/ivorycoast
UNICEF spokespersons in Abidjan are available for interview
For more information, please contact:
Terry Ally, UNICEF London, Mobile: +44 (0)7714 721 701, firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephen Pattison, UNICEF London, +44 (0)20 7375 6085, email@example.com
After hours, UNICEF London Media Team: +44 (0)20 7336 8922
UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation working for children and their rights in more than 190 countries. As champion of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF works to help every child realise their full potential. Together with our partners, UNICEF delivers health care, nutrition, education and protection to children in urgent need, while working with governments to ensure they deliver on their promise to protect and promote the rights of every child. UNICEF relies entirely on voluntary donations from individuals, governments, institutions and corporations, and is not funded by the UN budget. For more information, please visit www.unicef.org.uk.