NEW YORK (April 17, 2013) – In the face of the intensifying violence in the Central African Republic (CAR), more and more children are being killed and injured, says UNICEF. UNICEF is calling on all armed groups to stop actions that are putting civilian lives at risk, either through fighting or by preventing humanitarian aid reaching those in need.
“Children are caught in the crossfire in their daily activities, even when playing football or attending church. This is outrageous,” said Souleymane Diabate, UNICEF’s Representative in the Central African Republic. “Today, there are fewer and fewer places where children from the Central African Republic are safe.”
Three weeks after the Seleka alliance, a rebel group, seized power in a military coup, widespread insecurity, looting and violence have put the lives of Central African children at greater risk than ever. Since last Friday, fighting taking place in the capital city of Bangui has claimed the lives of at least three children and left 25 others injured, with four in critical condition.
Since renewed clashes erupted at the end of March, many children have been victims of stray bullets, while others have been recruited into armed groups. There has also been a documented increase in cases of sexual violence.
“We are seeing a country quickly sliding into chaos with more children’s lives endangered,” said Diabate. “Violence against children must stop. These acts in which innocent people have been killed and wounded must be investigated immediately by the authorities in power.”
Last week, UNICEF distributed emergency surgical kits, health equipment and medicines to 15 health centers, four hospitals and a maternity clinic in and around Bangui. Children injured last week have received emergency medical care with UNICEF supplies.
Yet, there is still a severe shortage of surgical facilities, supplies, and qualified doctors and nurses across the country as insecurity continues to prevent humanitarian access to much of the country.
UNICEF calls on the international community to mobilize urgently needed humanitarian funding and to actively engage in conflict resolution efforts in order to immediately halt the violence, which is putting the lives and futures of CAR’s children at grave risk.
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.