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Central African Republic’s Children Urgently Need Healing, Hope and Funding, says UNICEF Chief Anthony Lake

NEW YORK (January 20, 2014) Over the past 72 hours, senseless violence has resulted in many deaths and created tension throughout the Central African Republic in the lead-up to today’s vote to select an interim president of the country.

Three children and 19 adults were killed when a convoy of civilians fleeing north was attacked near Bouar. The Red Cross helped bury some 50 people killed over the weekend around Boyali, Boali and Bossembele in inter-communal violence. Yesterday morning, two men were hacked and stoned to death by a mob in Bangui, their bodies then burned on a main road in front of passersby, including children.

“Recent months have been a time of horrific violence, suffering and fear for children in the Central African Republic,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake from Bangui. “They have suffered death and injury and have witnessed terrible things that no child should ever see, much less endure. Too many have been displaced from their homes, separated from their families and recruited by armed groups.”

Some 2.3 million children are affected by the conflict in the country, with nearly half a million children displaced by violence in the past year, many hiding in the forests with little or no access to basic services or assistance. Schools across the country are closed, health clinics ransacked and water systems destroyed. The rainy season, beginning in March, will exacerbate an already precarious humanitarian situation for hundreds of thousands of people living in IDP sites across the country.

Today, the European Union and the United Nations are co-hosting a high-level meeting on humanitarian response and funding needs for the Central African Republic in Brussels. And in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council is holding a Special Session on the Central African Republic.

UNICEF urges that children be at the heart of the response and the focus of greater investment, if there is to be any chance of rebuilding the health, education and community systems that protect and nurture children. This will take time, commitment and resources. The work must begin now.

“The Central African Republic is at a crossroads. What we do now, or fail to do now, will have an impact for years to come, not only on individual children’s lives, but also their society,” Lake said. “By urgently focusing global attention, financial resources and political will to restore a better childhood for the children of Central African Republic we can make a positive difference in their lives – and thus the future of their society.”

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when zero children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.  

For additional information, please contact:

Andrea Sioris, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9136, asioris@unicefusa.org

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