Urgent action needed to protect children in ‘forgotten crisis’ in Central African Republic: UNICEF
BANGUI, Central African Republic/GENEVA/NEW YORK/ DAKAR, 5 May 2017 – Without increased support, the lives and futures of more than one million children in the Central African Republic are under threat, UNICEF said today.
While the country’s fragile recovery continues, sporadic violence and instability remains an issue, with an estimated 890,000 people remain displaced and more than 2.2 million people – half of them children – in need of humanitarian assistance.
“We cannot allow the Central African Republic to become a forgotten crisis,” said Christine Muhigana, UNICEF Representative in the Central African Republic. “The reality is that without sufficient support we will not be able to provide the vital services that are needed to keep children healthy, safe and in school.”
Today, over 425,000 people remain displaced inside the country while 463,000 have sought refuge in Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Congo – with Cameroon hosting more than half of these refugees. It is estimated that around half of those displaced are children.
The situation for children inside the country remains calamitous as violence and widespread displacement have made children especially vulnerable to health risks, exploitation and abuse. Nearly half of children under five (41 per cent) suffer from chronic malnutrition that jeopardizes their physical and intellectual development; one in seven children will die before they reach their fifth birthday and a third of children are out of school.
“Social services remain absent in many areas, where humanitarian organizations are having to provide the most vulnerable populations with emergency assistance.” Muhigana added. “UNICEF is working to provide humanitarian assistance in areas affected by conflict and working with the government on recovery in areas that are secure.”
In May 2015, the leaders of the armed groups signed a commitment to release all the children within their ranks. Since then, over 7,000 children have been released, but hundreds more are still enrolled.
UNICEF’s is facing a US$32.6 million funding gap as it races to provide life-saving assistance to children and families in the country. UNICEF’s 2016 appeal was less than 56 per cent funded.
Humanitarian access remains a pressing issue, with CAR being considered as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for humanitarian workers. In March 2017 alone there were 14 incidents involving humanitarian organisations.
In 2017 UNICEF and partners aim to:
• Reach 29,585 children under five affected by severe malnutrition with treatment
• Provide 320,000 people with access to essential health services
• Reach 450,000 internally displaced people and their host communities with safe water
• Provide 50,000 children with psycho-social support