The Republic of Congo (RoC) continues to be confronted with a multitude of complex humanitarian emergencies, leaving approximately 1.5 million people2 (including 720,000 children) in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. This situation is further aggravated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which puts 3.2 million people3 at risk of infection.
UNICEF RoC will continue to support and provide humanitarian assistance to crisisaffected populations within the current COVID-19 pandemic context. In 2022, UNICEF aims to reach 203,259 people with critical WASH supplies; 218,432 children and women with access to primary health care; more than 500,000 people with COVID-19 infection and prevention control interventions; and will undertake cross-sectoral activities focused on child protection, gender equality, gender-based violence in emergency situations. (GBViE, and prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA).
The present appeal aims to mobilize US$12.1 million4 to respond to the immediate and critical needs of crisis affected populations, with special focus in WASH, health, nutrition and education services and supplies.
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION AND NEEDS
The humanitarian situation in RoC is characterized by the presence of around 227,000 refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons, including 150,000 existing and new refugees from Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo and 77,000 internally displaced persons due to the 2016 conflict in the Pool region. In addition, 500,000 people live in high-risk Ebola virus infection areas along the Ubangi and Congo rivers bordering DRC.
The Likouala region alone hosts 27,000 refugees and asylum seekers, of which 16,761 are based in Bétou, Mounguengui and Moualé. The northern part of the country, which shares the river border with DRC, has experienced recurrent floods since 2019, affecting around 170,000 people every year, causing loss of lives, livestock, crops, household income, infrastructure and transport disruption, among others.
The humanitarian context is exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has negatively impacted communities and caused the closure of educational institutions between March and October 2020 affecting 1,474,372 students. This has contributed to issues related to access to education and other socioeconomic problems, such as increased rates of school dropouts, an increase in gender-based violence, a disruption of support to survivors in psycho-medical care centers, and increased vulnerabilities for children and women. In addition, access to safe water and sanitation services remains scarce. Only 20 per cent of households have access to basic sanitation and 74 per cent to protected water sources. Infection prevention and control practices remain a challenge, jeopardized by the lack of adequate WASH services in healthcare facilities, in a context where only one health centre out of three has access to safe water. The situation is also alarming in schools, with 56 per cent having no water service.
The prevalence of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) remains high and it is estimated that 31,736 children aged 6 to 59 months suffer from SAM. This is further aggravated by the lack of timely access to quality primary health care, key recommended immunizations and appropriate channels to refer and treat SAM.18 In addition, there are disparities in terms of access to public services, with rural areas receiving fewer public services than the two largest cities of Brazzaville and Pointe Noire.
Out of the 1.5 million people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, 48 per cent are children facing enormous challenges in terms of access to basic social services.