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UNICEF reaching “forgotten children” in Central African Republic

2014-10-31

BANGUI/ GENEVA, 31 October 2014 – UNICEF is rushing critical supplies to thousands of children forced to flee their homes in Central African Republic (CAR), amid worsening violence and increased attacks against aid workers.

Fresh fighting in northern and western regions of the country, as well as an upsurge of violence in the capital Bangui, have worsened insecurity and put humanitarian access in jeopardy. 

“We refuse to be threatened into stopping our work to protect children, especially those who are hardest to reach,” said Ms Judith Léveillée, UNICEF Deputy Representative in CAR.

“We must do everything possible to get aid to the children of the Central African Republic.  They are in desperate need of support and are in danger of being forgotten by the world.”

UNICEF is doing everything it can to reach children affected by violence:

  • UNICEF has secured the water supply of 55,000 people in the north-west of the country, after delivering enough fuel and chlorine to run the water treatment centres in Bossangoa and Bouar for the next two months.
  • Amid fears the situation could deteriorate, UNICEF has pre-positioned more emergency supplies for children – including tarpaulins, jerry cans, and blankets - in its five field offices.
  • On Wednesday, a special Norwegian Air charter flight landed in Bangui packed with critical stocks, including drugs for the treatment of HIV, materials to build emergency latrines and nutrition supplies for severely malnourished children.
  • UNICEF is setting up 78 new temporary learning spaces for approximately 15,600 children who have been forced to flee their homes, including in the hotspots of Kaga Bandoro, Batangafo and Dekoa.

However, UNICEF and partners are operating in increasingly challenging circumstances in the country.  

“We have experienced unprecedented attacks against humanitarian workers this month in the Central African Republic,” said Judith Léveillée.

“We need safe, unimpeded humanitarian access to get emergency aid to vulnerable children and their families and we call on all parties to the conflict to guarantee our access to people in need.”

Across the Central African Republic, more than 2.3 million children have been affected by the crisis since intense fighting reached Bangui last December forcing nearly 1 million people to flee their homes.  Almost half a million people are still displaced, including an extra 3,000 people who fled their homes during the recent outbreak of violence in Bangui. 

UNICEF has verified that six children died and 22 were injured in the eight-day intensification of fighting in the city earlier this month, including two children brutally killed after they were accused of spying.  UNICEF also received reports that wounded children and pregnant women were not able to access hospitals because of roadblocks or because they feared being targeted.

Editor’s note

UNICEF has teams in Bangui, Bossangoa, Bouar, Zemio and Kaga Bandoro, and leads a Rapid Response Mechanism that delivers emergency supplies to areas where there is virtually no humanitarian presence.

UNICEF has been working with the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection Department (ECHO) to provide critical supplies to urban water treatment centres, including the centres in Bangui, Bossangoa, Carnot and Bouar.

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About UNICEF

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 in developing countries.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visitwww.unicef.ca.

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.