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Almost 7,000 people who have taken refuge near the Padre Pio religious community and the St Marc major seminary, south of the capital, have been given maize, beans, salt and cooking oil. "These people recently fled the violence, leaving almost everything they had behind," said Georgios Georgantas, head of the ICRC delegation in the Central African Republic. "They are having a very hard time meeting even their most basic needs."
More than 100,000 people at an airport site and 30,000 near the Boy-Rabe monastery are receiving water from the ICRC every day. "The water improves their daily life, but hygiene conditions remain very poor overall," said Mr Georgantas.
"On the outskirts of the airport, where the greatest concentration of displaced people is to be found, we've been working since the crisis erupted on 5 December, despite the unsettled security conditions, to cope with the steady flow of displaced people who continue to arrive each and every day," he said. "The priority is to find quick and efficient ways of providing them with greater quantities of safe drinking water and better sanitation."
A surgical team has been sent to the community hospital, where large numbers of casualties are being admitted every day. "The aim is to treat patients with violence-related injuries and perform emergency operations," said surgeon Essam El Sayed, whose team has operated on some 30 patients since 4 January. "We are admitting everyone who requires medical attention and providing them with care. Treatment is prioritized on the sole basis of the severity of the injuries."
The ICRC has re-opened the hospital's trauma ward, which had been inactive, to expand capacity. "The needs are enormous," said Dr El Sayed. "All of the ward's 26 beds are already occupied, and we are planning to add even more, for the intensive care unit in particular."
In parallel with these efforts, the ICRC and the Central African Red Cross continue to administer first aid. In addition, over the past few days they took 18 sick people, including six expectant mothers and nine children, and some 20 casualties to the community hospital or Castor maternity hospital, the only two health-care facilities still functioning in Bangui.
This week, ICRC staff are providing support for the national vaccination campaign against measles and polio at two sites in Bangui where a total of more than 23,000 displaced people have gathered. Over a three-day period, 8,500 young people will be immunized against the diseases.
For further information, please contact:Nadia Dibsy, ICRC Bangui, tel: +236 75 64 30 07David-Pierre Marquet, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 02 or +41 79 536 92 48