DR Congo

DR Congo: First emergency supplies airlifted into Goma; critical to curbing cholera and respiratory infections

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Goma, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo, 09 November, 2008. Today, 29 tonnes of emergency relief supplies arrived in Goma. The United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) airlifted these first critical supplies in from pre-positioned stocks in Dubai. The supplies will be distributed by UNICEF and partners to immediately respond to the needs of more than 100,000 people displaced from their homes in the past 10 days and 250,000 people in the last two months.

One million water purification tablets and thousands of buckets have arrived and are now being prepared for distribution to displaced families in the coming days. The water purification tablets will provide clean drinking water to tens of thousands and the buckets will enable them to carry it with minimal risk of contamination.

UNICEF DRC Representative Pierrette Vu Thi stated "These supplies will help contain the spread of cholera and diarrhoea, both extremely contagious diseases on the rise in nearly all internally displaced person settlements in North Kivu. We are extremely thankful for these supplies, which will help to save and improve the lives of children affected in the North Kivu conflict".

Thousands of plastic tarpaulin sheets have also arrived and will be distributed in the coming days to provide the displaced with emergency shelter. Many of those displaced over the last 10 days have not had any shelter. This minimal shelter will be critical to protecting children from the elements, helping to ward off illness and infection. Respiratory infections are the number two killer of children in DRC.

Emergency relief supplies from several countries will continue to be airlifted in over the coming days and weeks to meet the most essential livelihood needs of tens of thousands of displaced children and women. UNICEF with its partners continues reinforcing its free health care, emergency measles vaccinations, protection of children separated from their families, emergency access to education, the provision of clean water, construction of latrines, and promotion of hygiene interventions for hundreds of thousands of people affected by the conflict.

After more than a decade of insecurity and conflict, the suffering of children in eastern DRC continues at monumental levels. Only with durable peace and stability can eastern DRC's long suffering children have the guaranteed possibility to survive and realize their potential. UNICEF calls on all armed groups and actors to give this possibility a chance, to respect all children's rights enshrined in international law.

About UNICEF DRC

UNICEF has mounted one of its largest emergency humanitarian operations in the world in the DRC. UNICEF and its network of operational partners is responding to the needs of internally displaced persons, returnees, and host communities with programs in health, nutrition, education, child protection, sexual violence, essential household items, and water, sanitation and hygiene. In order to respect the fundamental rights of Congolese children to survive and realize their potential, UNICEF advocates for sustainable peace and stability in the eastern DRC.

About UNICEF

UNICEF is present in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information please contact:

Jaya Murthy, UNICEF Goma, +243 81 230 5933, jmurthy@unicef.org

Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York, +1 212 326 7426, pmccormick@unicef.org