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Children targeted in Central African Republic atrocities

2013-12-06

As UN Security Council passes Resolution, immediate action needed to protect children from rampant violence

BANGUI/DAKAR/PARIS/GENEVA, 6 December 2013 – One year after the start of the conflict in the Central African Republic, 2.3 million children are affected by the crisis, and children are increasingly becoming  the victims of violence and forced recruitment amidst ongoing atrocities.

The UN Resolution passed by the Security Council and the ongoing Paris-Africa Summit are drawing overdue attention to the neglected crisis.  But urgent action is needed now to protect children from harm, release them from armed groups, and provide them with safe access to humanitarian assistance. 

With growing tension between communities, the chances increase that violent clashes such as those in the capital Bangui and other cities may escalate into large scale massacres. There have been confirmed incidents of attacks on children and women in Mboki two weeks ago and in Bouali three days ago.

“There must be no further delay in taking effective action; there can be no excuse for failing the children and families of the Central African Republic,” said UNICEF’s Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Action must be impartial and swift to stop the targeting of children, to protect schools, health facilities and transit centres, and to provide care and support to victims – with no impunity for the perpetrators of these outrages against children.”

Seven out of ten primary school students in the Central African Republic have not returned to school since December 2012 and 80 per cent of all primary schools have stopped functioning due to the fighting.  Children out of school are the most vulnerable to recruitment.

The number of children associated with armed forces and groups in the country has risen to at least 3,500 and could be as many as 6,000; cases of sexual violence and rape against girls, including collective rape, have been reported to the UN.

With more than 480,000 people forced to flee their homes so far, and threats to the stability of the region, UNICEF and partners continue to work to provide life-saving support to displaced people across the country and to those who have fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon.

Even as the security situation worsens, that work continues.

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For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.