UNICEF Calls on all Parties to Protect Children in Central African Republic

The lives of 600,000 children in Central Africa Republic (CAR) are being gravely affected by the ongoing conflict across the country, UNICEF warned today. The agency called on all parties to lay down their arms and to ensure the wellbeing of children.

NEW YORK (March 26, 2013) – The lives of 600,000 children in Central Africa Republic (CAR) are being gravely affected by the ongoing conflict across the country, UNICEF warned today. The agency called on all parties to lay down their arms and to ensure the wellbeing of children.

While UNICEF has temporarily relocated non-essential staff from CAR to neighboring Cameroon following the rebel takeover of the country, more than 60 UNICEF staff are still working to deliver supplies to affected children. However, the challenges are daunting. The blockage of roads, the presence of armed groups, and the potential risk of pillage and attacks is preventing the massive distribution of supplies from taking place.

Even before the trouble began, an estimated 13,500 children were expected to suffer from life-threatening malnutrition this year. Most doctors have left and many nutrition centers are closed and looted.

Over the past three months, basic health, nutrition and education services have been disrupted in many communities in most of the rebel-controlled areas. During missions to Kaga-Bandoro, Bossangoa and Bambari earlier this month, UNICEF noted shortages of life-saving medicines in all the three towns.

With schools closed or occupied and teachers absent, at least 166,000 children are being denied access to education.

Other major risks to children include recruitment into armed groups and gender-based violence. The most vulnerable are children who have lost their homes, have been separated from their families, or were formerly associated with armed groups. Even before the current crisis, UNICEF estimates that some 2,500 children, both girls and boys, were associated with armed groups in the Central African Republic.

Since January, UNICEF has brought in more than 70 metric tons of supplies including medicine, water purification tablets, therapeutic food, cooking sets, tarpaulins, mosquito nets, and other essential household items.

UNICEF urgently needs $11.1 million to provide life-saving support to families affected by the conflict. Before the outset of the crisis, humanitarian agencies launched a $129 million appeal for emergency assistance in 2013, but only one percent of this much needed funding has been received.

About UNICEF

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, smasur@unicefusa.org