CAR + 1 more

Central African Republic: Humanitarian aid map being drawn up

BANGUI, 21 January (IRIN) - The office of the UN Resident Coordinator in the Central African Republic is producing a map to facilitate emergency humanitarian intervention in zones under government control, some of which are behind rebel lines.
"We need a detailed map showing which zones can be reached by air, land or river," Stan Nkwain, the UN Development Programme resident representative, said on Monday during a weekly UN-NGO humanitarian coordination meeting.

The idea of the map surfaced after a few successful attempts by the UN Children's Fund - using private jets - to deliver small quantities of essential drugs to Bambari (385 km northeast of the capital, Bangui) and Bria (597 km north east of Bangui). Both towns are under government control.

UN humanitarian agencies are still awaiting the outcome of the ongoing negotiations between the rebels and the government before embarking on unhindered humanitarian assessments in rebel-held zones.

The easternmost parts of the country remain, theoretically, under government control, but these have been isolated from Bangui since supporters of the former army chief of staff, Francois Bozize, invaded Bangui on 25 October. Bozize's men occupy the centre and north of the country and are blocking land access to the east.

Jets belonging either to Catholic missionaries or to private mining companies still fly from Bangui to government zones behind rebel zones.

During a mission on 16 and on 17 January, Medicos Sin Fronteras (MSF-Spain) toured Bossembele (157 km north west of Bangui) and Bozoum (384 km northwest of Bangui). The government recently retook both towns from the rebels.

"We mainly assessed the situation of health centres," said Alfredo Lazzeri, the COOPI (Cooperazione Internationale) specialist in public health, told IRIN on Monday. Lazzeri, who made the tour with MSF, added that medical personnel in Bozoum had stayed at their posts and that the main chemist's shop of the city had not been looted. He said none of the 20,000 inhabitants of Bozoum had fled into the bush.

"There is no risk of a humanitarian catastrophe. The only problem is the one of medical supplies," Lazzeri said.


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