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Relentless violence against children in the Central African Republic is an affront to humanity: UNICEF

2013-12-16

New York/Bangui, 16 December 2013 - As violence continues unabated in the Central African Republic, the horrific killing, abuse and harm being inflicted on children are an affront to humanity, UNICEF said today.

“For too long, the lives of children in the Central African Republic have not counted nor been counted in this forgotten crisis,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

“The facts are right in front of us. This vicious conflict is now affecting 2.3 million children. Children are being killed because they are Christian or Muslim. Children are being forced to flee their homes and hide in terror to avoid the fighters. Children are witnessing horrific acts of violence. Children are being recruited into armed groups - possibly as many as 6,000. These brutal attacks on children are an affront to humanity,” added Lake.

More than half a million people have been displaced so far by the conflict, and latest reports show that an average of three people every hour were killed in fighting in the second week of December alone. Despite the volatile security situation, UNICEF continues to support critical services for displaced families in conflict-affected parts of the country including Bangui, Bossongoa and Kaga Bandoro.

So far this year, UNICEF and its partners have vaccinated more than 480,000 children under five against measles. More than 47,000 displaced people – mostly in Bossangoa — have received blankets, plastic sheeting, soap and jerry cans provided by UNICEF. About 280,000 people now have access to safe water. UNICEF also continues to support safe spaces for children for education and recreational activities, as part of efforts to address the trauma experienced by so many children.

On Friday, UNICEF airlifted 77 metric tons of blankets, soap, jerry cans, medicine, water purification supplies, plastic sheeting, and health and midwifery kits to the capital Bangui. In the last 12 months, UNICEF has dispatched four other cargo planes of life-saving supplies for war-affected families.

“We must all do more,” said Lake. “But the ultimate responsibility to end this cruel and bitter conflict, and stop the abuse of children, rests with those who are engaging in violence. Schools, health facilities and transit centres need to be protected. And those who continue to harm children should be held accountable.”

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UNICEF has saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

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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.