IMC starts new mission in war torn northeastern CAR

News and Press Release
Originally published
Bangui-Central African Republic/Santa Monica, CA June 14, 2007 - International Medical Corps is starting operations in the extremely remote and underserved Vakaga Province of Central African Republic which is beset by an ongoing rebellion, rampant banditry, and the spillovers of the active conflicts in Chad and Sudan.

IMC will be one of the few international aid agencies operating in an extremely volatile and dangerous area of CAR that is flooded with internally displaced people. Only recently have these populations begun to receive badly needed medical assistance and nutritional support.

International Medical Corps has secured funding from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and various UN agencies to assist tens of thousands affected by war, crime, and poverty in the Central African Republic.

"The humanitarian crisis in this part of the Central African Republic seemed all but forgotten. IMC is very pleased that we will be able to support people who have suffered for many years. We are ready to go to the most remote and volatile area of this country and start assisting the population with health and nutritional support," says Ben Hemingway, IMC Senior Desk Officer for Chad, Sudan, and CAR.

International Medical Corps is uniquely qualified for the work in the Central African Republic. IMC has operated in neighboring Chad and Darfur for many years and is familiar with the logistical challenges, the environment and the parties to the conflict.

During a recent assessment in the area of operation, IMC came across deserted and destroyed villages and abandoned health posts. Many people had fled their homes and were living in the bush after they had been caught in heavy fighting between several armed factions. Only five percent of children are immunized against measles and less then 20% of the population has access to safe water sources. The recent spur of violence affects communities who have lived with an extremely fragile infrastructure, little institutional support, and hardly any outside assistance.

IMC will start an emergency primary health care intervention with mobile clinics to reach the large number of displaced populations in Vakaga province. The mobile clinics will also provide nutritional support to the malnourished. They will be tied to the local health posts, which are in need of staff, medication and medical supplies. As in all its programs, IMC will emphasize on building the capacity of the local health staff and the beneficiary communities to ensure sustainability of its programs, even after the emergency resides and IMC leaves.