General News of Sunday, 22 January 2017
Reports indicate that thousands of Children in The Gambia have vacated their homes to neighbouring Senegal due to the hiccups engulfing the political transition of that country.
The development seems not good as the refugees are facing mammoth challenges ranging from education to food.
The United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) and its Partners have teamed up with Senegalese authorities to lay out robust emergency measures to provide the needs of these children.
A statement issued by Communications Consultant at the External Relations and Public Advocacy Unit of UNICEF, Ruth Pappoe, said the emergency plans sought, among other things, to support up to 40,000 people for three months with healthcare, water, sanitation and education along the border areas.
The intervention also includes deploying experts and resources into host communities in Senegal to help them cope with the influx of the refugees, the statement said.
In order to help families re-establish some degree of normalcy, the plans would also supply water and sanitation services in the most affected areas on the border with the aim of installing 300 water points so that the displaced population could get fresh water less than 500 meters from their temporary homes.
“Host communities would also be equipped with latrines and showers while more than 10,000 bowls and hand washing kits are being deployed to households so families have the basics to practice good hygiene and keep their children healthy,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, it said, thousands of children were currently getting no access to education in The Gambia due to the political crisis, the refugees were also not in classrooms.
Education planners, therefore, expect that as many as 32,000 children from The Gambia might need school support in the coming months.
However, as families settle into host communities, it is estimated that more than 50,000 Senegalese children could be joined by the wave of additional students into their existing schools.
The UNICEF’s plans, therefore, would ensure that if the instability persists, learning materials including English Language curriculum could be transferred from The Gambia and distributed to the displaced children in the various schools in Senegal.
“Emergency co-ordinators will also look to identify as many as 360 teachers and get them working within the Senegalese schools, operating in double shifts at shared school facilities,” the statement said.
The West and Central Africa Regional Director of the UNICEF, Marie-Pierre Poirier, has given the assurance that the organisation’s teams in The Gambia and Senegal would work tirelessly to ensure that the needs of children remain priority in its efforts to support The Gambia as the situation evolves.