NEW YORK (March 29, 2013) – Two million children remain without access to basic social services and are exposed to violence in the Central African Republic. Even more children will be deprived if the situation in the conflict-ridden country does not stabilize rapidly.
One week after the takeover of the country by the Seleka coalition, UNICEF is warning that security conditions are preventing critical humanitarian aid from reaching children. The result could be deadly for children, many of whom are already in a fragile condition.
“Children in the Central African Republic were some of the most vulnerable in Africa even before the recent upsurge in fighting,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF's Regional Director. “It is imperative to have full and secure access to communities affected by the conflict.”
Since the recent takeover of Bangui and widespread looting, UNICEF estimates that at least 4.1 million people, almost half of whom are children, are now directly affected by the crisis. Since the end of December, 1.2 million people have been cut off from essential services.
“The needs and rights of children must be the priority for the new government,” said Souleymane Diabate, the Central African Republic representative for UNICEF. “Being able to operate in an environment that is secure, and where we have access to all the population is crucial to UNICEF and other humanitarian actors. Every day we cannot deliver aid where it’s needed, there is an increased risk of disease and epidemics.”
UNICEF calls on all parties to the conflict to ensure free and secure access of supplies and humanitarian actors to those in need, to ensure that all involved respect humanitarian principles, human rights and the rule of law.
“The time has come for the Seleka coalition which took power last weekend to really demonstrate how committed it is to humanitarian principles and human rights for all Central Africans,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa.
UN Security Council resolution 1612 highlights the six grave violations against child rights for which armed groups will be held accountable. Grave violations, as defined in the resolution, are recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming of children, rape and other grave sexual violence, abductions, attacks on schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access to children.
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:
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, firstname.lastname@example.org