Renewed Violence Threatens Thousands of Trapped Children in Central African Republic

With a new wave of fighting and vicious attacks in Central African Republic (CAR) this week threatening vulnerable families, UNICEF warns that thousands of children, from both Muslim and Christian communities, are especially at risk. UNICEF has confirmed reports of the deaths of at least three children in an attack last night. In the past week of violence, eight children injured by grenade and gunfire have been treated.

Renewed Violence Threatens Thousands of Trapped Children in Central African Republic

NEW YORK (March 28, 2014) – With a new wave of fighting and vicious attacks in Central African Republic (CAR) this week threatening vulnerable families, UNICEF warns that thousands of children, from both Muslim and Christian communities, are especially at risk. UNICEF has confirmed reports of the deaths of at least three children in an attack last night. In the past week of violence, eight children injured by grenade and gunfire have been treated.  

“Enclaves of civilians are under siege and are at the mercy of daily attacks,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa. . “The ongoing hostilities represent appalling acts of violence against children, women and men.” 

“Lack of security continues to impede the efforts of humanitarian organizations like UNICEF to deliver life-saving assistance and protection in a sustained, systematic manner to the most vulnerable people in the country,” he added.

In the capital city of Bangui, violence has reversed the trend of displaced people returning home and limited access for humanitarian assistance. For the first time in weeks, the number of displaced people in the capital has increased from 177,000 to approximately 200,000, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The increased insecurity in the past few days has forced UNICEF and the National Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (ANEA) to suspend their emergency supply of safe drinking water to some 2,600 displaced people who have been trapped in Bangui’s precarious PK12 neighborhood for months. 

Since January, UNICEF has regularly been delivering large water bladders by truck to provide safe drinking water to the PK12 neighborhood. To reach PK12, the trucks have to pass through occasionally hostile crowds adjacent to French military and MISCA checkpoints set up on the outskirts of the neighborhood to help protect the PK12 community.

This week, there have been additional reports of attacks on villages and mobile communities in the western region of CAR. More recently, a reported grenade attack on a funeral in Bangui has left many civilians dead. “Violence and brutality against civilian populations, including women and children continue,” said Fontaine. “This is completely unacceptable and the disruption of aid delivery due to violence and insecurity is yet another inexcusable threat against children and women in the Central African Republic.” 

UNICEF urges all parties involved in the conflict to promptly facilitate full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to people in need and ensure civilians are protected. Some 2.3 million children are affected by the conflict in CAR and are in need of protection. Over the past year, children have not been spared the brutality of this humanitarian crisis, of which they have no part. Perpetrators of human rights violations also have yet to be brought to justice and must be held accountable for their actions.

In 2014, UNICEF is requesting $62 million to meet the humanitarian needs of children in the Central African Republic. This includes $14 million to cover water, sanitation and hygiene needs.

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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:

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

Kiní Schoop, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.922.2634, kschoop@unicefusa.org