UNICEF Emergency Programmes: Republic of Congo Donor Update - 7 Mar 2000

Originally published

1. Emergency overview and recent developments
The heavy damage and impact of June-October 1997 civil war is still noticeable in many parts of the country. This was aggravated by heavy fighting in Brazzaville in December 1998, resulting in massive displacements of people, mainly women and children. The entire population of Brazzaville, including Bacongo, Makelekele and Kinsoundi, was displaced affecting some 200,000 people. Several towns in southern regions, including Dolisie (80,000 inhabitants), and Nkayi (60,000) and Sibiti (40,000) were entirely emptied of their population, completely looted and heavily damaged. In the four southern regions -- Pool, Bouenza, Lekoumou and Niari -- public infrastructure (bridges, health facilities, schools and public and private buildings) were either destroyed or burnt down. Also there was an influx of 40,000 IDPs in Point Noire. An estimated 810,000 persons (about 30% of the total population) both in rural and urban areas were displaced during the 1999 war.

The humanitarian situation today is characterised by the continuous move of displaced people from the forests and resettlements of former refugees to their respective homes/villages especially in areas where security is guaranteed. About 370,000 persons had already returned in January and more are expected, probably making the figure rise to 600,000 by April/May 2000.

The two civil wars in Brazzaville, and to a large extent in the rest of the country, had serious negative impact on child rights protection -- particularly on the survival, development and protection of children and women.

The country’s educational system is highly paralysed, more than 50% of pupils are stopped from schooling and the quality of education has seriously declined. Most schools are generally in state of poor basic hygiene and sanitation conditions, characterised by either no toilets or water sources or facilities that have to be rehabilitated.

However, there are recent positive developments related to the emergency response in the country:

a) Signing of cease-fire and cessation of hostilities accord in 16 November 1999 in Point Noire and 29 December 1999 in Brazzaville between the Government and the opposition parties.

b) Opposition leaders cautiously support the cease-fire and subsequent peaceful transition process based on continuous dialogue.

c) Continued return of population to their communities, encouraged by declined military activities and the cease-fire accord.

2. UNICEF’s response: Activities, Achievements and Constraints

In the post-conflict period, UNICEF initiated humanitarian and rehabilitation activities have provided urgently required assistance to displaced, returnees and other war-affected children and women, as well as creating conditions conducive to accelerating a return to normal life for the population. At present, UNICEF continues a mixed strategy of emergency response and a gradual move to rehabilitation, reactivating basic services for children and women in affected areas. The ongoing emergency response and future rehabilitation activities is focussed on the following priority areas of concern of UNICEF, especially in helping the government to support child rights in a post-conflict situation.

a) Responding to children’s right to education

In helping to the learning environment in schools, there are two comparative advantages which UNICEF has capitalized on – the existence of parents associations that play an active role in sustaining education activities, and a strong cooperation with the NGOs. UNICEF’s assistance is focused on basic education providing basic furniture and education materials (e.g. desks, notebooks, pens, chalk, sports equipment) to schools UNICEF, along with CREPA (an NGO) and parents and teachers association, will help in rehabilitating water and sanitation facilities of primary schools. UNICEF also provides education learning kits for the teachers and pupils returning to schools. This will be an entry point in introducing other activities such as rehabilitation of school buildings, revolving fund schemes for education materials, school gardening and hygiene promotion in the community, promotion of peace education and child rights protection.

b) Responding to children’s rights to highest possible standard and access to health

UNICEF is giving priority to sustain immunisation and NID campaign activities, together with Vitamin A distribution, provision of basic equipment and essential drugs to revive health care services. UNICEF is also initiating a nutrition surveillance to address problems of malnutrition while distributing BP-5 biscuits to malnourished children and mothers. The above assistance will continue over a period of time to sustain basic health care and nutrition services.

c) Responding to emergency needs of children for shelter

The majority of houses in the war-affected areas were heavily damaged, looted or burnt, community water sources were made non-functional, and the hygiene and sanitation condition is very poor. In this emergency situation, the immediate response from UNICEF was providing basic assistance in the form of tarpaulins, plastic sheetings, blankets, and matresses, lamps and toilet soap.

3. Summary of 2000 Appeal requirements

Within the framework of the UN Consolidated Appeal for Republic of Congo, UNICEF requested a total of US$ 3.5 million to support its emergency operations from January to December 2000.

Planned UNICEF Activities
Health and nutrition 1,750,000
Primary Education
Protection of children
Shelter and resettlement
*Includes funds ($52,499) earmarked for water, sanitation and
hygiene activities

4. Funding received

UNICEF has so far received US$ 378,202, which represents 15.8% of the total US$ 3.5 Million requested for emergency operations in 2000. In late 1999, Canada has donated US$ 68,027 for emergency health activities and the government of Norway has released US$ 310,175 to carry out operations in health, shelter/resettlement, water/sanitation, children in need of special protection measures, and intersectoral projects. In 2000, a contribution was received from Sweden with the amount of US$ 173,611.

5. Impact of Under-funding

UNICEF is handicapped by the lack of resources to meet the huge humanitarian needs of the vulnerable children and women. Due to limited resources, UNICEF has not yet been able to carry out the rehabilitation activities for schools, leaving numerous school children with no access to education.

Details of the Republic of Congo Emergency Programme can be obtained from:

Mr. Aboudou Karimou Adjibade
UNICEF Country Office
Republic of Congo
Tel: + 242 81 50 24
Fax: + 242 81 42 40

Robin Medforth-Mills
Tel: + 41 22 909 55 54
Fax: + 41 22 909 5902

Dan Rohrmann
New York
Tel: + 1 212 326 70 09
Fax: + 1 212 326 71 65

For more information on UNICEF, visit its web site at