Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The UN refugee agency on Tuesday resumed distribution of relief items to an estimated 100,000 internally displaced people who sought safety at the Bangui International Airport in the Central African Republic.
"It is a relief for UNHCR and the displaced people staying at the airport site. We had to suspend distribution of aid on several occasions, and were frustrated that we could not properly assist people living on this site due to security concerns", said Kouassi Lazare Etien, UNHCR representative in the Central African Republic.
The joint distribution of food provided by the World Food Programme (WFP) and relief items from UNHCR started on 7 January. It will cover some 20,000 families (100,000 individuals) taking shelter at the airport. UNHCR will distribute 20,000 blankets, 20,000 sleeping mats, 40,000 soap bars, 20,000 mosquito nets, 20,000 jerry cans and some 4,000 plastic sheets.
Earlier distribution efforts were hampered due to security concerns and incidents at the airport site. A new mechanism, worked together with displaced communities and humanitarian agencies has been devised. Aid agencies have also linked with the French and MISCA (the African Union peacekeeping force) to secure the location and the distribution, and therein guarantee the humanitarian and civilian character of the site.
"People at the airport are living in a desperate situation. UNHCR with partners has been able to relocate some 2,400 households (some 12,000 individuals) to another site inside the airport zone to help reduce congestion and support a smooth delivery of aid," Etien said.
UNHCR and partners have developed a strategy to assist displaced people at the site with food delivery, health care, water, sanitation, shelter and non-food items.
UNHCR is the lead humanitarian agency responding to IDP needs for protection, shelter and domestic relief items in CAR. So far, UNHCR has distributed non-food items and shelter materials to almost 30,000 affected individuals on 13 sites in Bangui and two in Bossangoa, north of the capital.
A total 935,000 people in the Central African Republic are displaced with more than 512,000 of them taking shelter across 67 sites in Bangui, or living with host families.
For more information on this topic, please contact:In Bangui, Bernard Ntwari on mobile +236 72 675186 In Geneva, Babar Baloch on mobile +41 79 557 9106