UNICEF and partners begin vaccination campaign in CAR

UNICEF said on Wednesday that a campaign to vaccinate more than 210,000 children displaced by violence has begun in the Central African Republic capital of Bangui.

Approximately seven cases of measles have been confirmed in the country, including three at a location near Bangui airport where approximately 100,000 people who are trying to escape violence are staying.

The vaccination campaign includes immunizations for measles and polio, in addition to vitamin A supplements, deworming medication and malnutrition screening.

"All the elements are present for a potentially deadly outbreak of disease - severely overcrowded camps, low immunity and extremely poor water and sanitation infrastructure," Souleymane Diabaté, the UNICEF Representative in CAR, said. "This is a deadly combination for children. Unless we act now, we could have a disaster on our hands."

Since December, approximately two-thirds of Bangui's residents have been displaced because of violence. More than 935,000 people have been displaced during the last year.

UNICEF provides most of the vaccines, injection material and operational costs. The organization said it will continue to monitor the immunization campaign. Multiple medical non-governmental organizations have partnered with UNICEF on the project, including ICRC, the World Health Organization, Doctors without Borders, the CAR Red Cross, Merlin/Save the Children, International medical Corps and Medecins du Monde.