40 tons of food for 45,000 Gambian refugees

Some 40 tons of food aid arrived in the Ziguinchor region of Senegal on Thursday 19 January 2017 for distribution to recent arrivals from Gambia and host families. Photo: UNHCR/Hélène Caux

UN is expressing concerns about access to healthcare, water, sanitation, and education and UNICEF is setting up support for about 40,000 people for three months.

Some 40 tons of food aid arrived in the Ziguinchor region of Senegal on Thursday for distribution to recent arrivals from Gambia and host families.

“The world’s attention has focused on politics, but thousands of children and their families are caught up in this volatile and disruptive situation,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “Our teams in Senegal and the Gambia are on standby to ensure that children’s needs are at the center of any response as the situation evolves.”

Political uncertainty in the Gambia has forced more than 45,000 people, mostly women and children to flee the West African nation after the use of military force to bend longtime ruler President Yahya Jammeh to leave became eminent.

“Over 75 percent of arrivals are children, accompanied mainly by women. They are staying with family members, host families or in hotels. Some families are hosting up to 40 to 50 people and will soon need support as they may quickly run out of resources,” said Babar Baloch, spokesperson for the UN Refugee Agency.

There may be long time impacts if Jammeh continues to be defiant and ECOMIG forces resume their military offensive.

Mr. Barrow has been in neighboring Senegal for days. He was sworn in at the Gambian embassy there on Thursday. West African nations, including Senegal, have deployed troops in The Gambia – threatening to drive Mr. Jammeh out of office by force.

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