CAR

CAR: UNICEF to supply drugs to eastern provinces

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BANGUI, 3 March (IRIN) - In response to a health crisis caused by months of fighting in the Central African Republic the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) will this begin distributing drugs to hospitals and health centres in three eastern provinces, an official said on Thursday.
"This operation will consist in resupplying drugs to all health facilities for three months and at subsidised prices," Diego Zorrilla, the UNICEF programme coordinator, told IRIN in the capital, Bangui.

A chartered plane would leave Copenhagen, Denmark, with drugs and medical materials worth US $400,000, he said. The consignment will consist of basic drugs, protein-enriched food for children, water-purification tablets and emergency obstetrical kits.

The southeastern provinces of Haut-Mbomou and Haute-Kotto, and that of Ouaka in the south - from where UNICEF will be operating - have not experienced any fighting between government forces and those of former army chief of staff, Francois Bozize. However, the provinces have been cut off from the capital for four months when the rebels occupied the centre of the country. This has led to an acute shortage of medicines in these provinces.

Zorrilla said UNICEF would ensure that residents of the provinces would get regular medical care. UNICEF is in talks with the health ministry, which will provide this.

Similarly, the EU will be carrying out the same operation as UNICEF in Basse-Kotto and Mbomou, while Medicos Sin Fronteras and Cooperazione Internationale will be operating in the war-ravaged north.

Since the recapture of most cities in the north and centre of the country by government forces, humanitarian workers have been considering ways and means of intervening in previously occupied zones and those that were isolated. On Wednesday, a UN-NGO-government humanitarian assessment mission toured Damara and Sibut, respectively 80 km and 184 km northeast of Bangui. Similar missions are expected in a very near future.

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