On 7 March, a series of explosions occurred in the armoury of the Nkuantoma gendarmerie and special forces barracks in Bata, the country’s economic capital and the largest city by population, located in the mainland. As of 9 March, 105 people died and more than 600 were injured. The camp where the explosions occurred is fully destroyed and so are houses and vegetation up to 800m from the blast epicentre. The only COVID-19 testing laboratory in Bata has been significantly damaged as well.
The Government described the situation as catastrophic and called for the international community’s support to respond to humanitarian needs. Some immediate consequences of the blast included overload in hospitals due to injuries, lack of housing for families with destroyed homes and evacuation for fear of another explosion. Temporary shelter, food assistance and psychological support for victims are also critical. There are substantial logistic constraints for incoming aid, with no easy connection between Malabo and Bata.
In the immediate aftermath of the explosions, the Minister of Foreign Affairs called for a meeting with diplomatic corps, in which the UN Resident Coordinator as well as Heads of UN agencies participated. The Government described the situation in Bata as catastrophic and called for the international community’s support to respond to humanitarian needs. In particular, the Minister of Foreign Affairs request urgent medical support including mobile hospitals, physicians, equipment, and medicines, as well as shelter and food assistance.
In consultation with the Resident Coordinator in country, an UNDAC team was dispatched to support on coordination, needs assessments, environmental management, information management and humanitarian financing. The first team member arrived in-country on 12 March 2021. The expected duration of the mission is three weeks, until 3 April 2021. The team contact list is attached.