NEW YORK (December 16, 2013) – As violence continues to escalate in the Central African Republic, the horrific killing, abuse and harm being inflicted on children is an affront to humanity, UNICEF said today.
"For too long, the lives of children in the Central African Republic have not counted nor been counted in this forgotten crisis," said Anthony Lake, UNICEF’s Executive Director.
"The facts are right in front of us. This vicious conflict is now affecting 2.3 million children. Children are being killed because they are Christian or Muslim. Children are being forced to flee their homes and hide in terror to avoid the fighters. Children are witnessing horrific acts of violence. Children are being recruited into armed groups—possibly as many as 6,000. These brutal attacks on children are an affront to humanity," added Lake.
More than half a million people have been displaced since the conflict began almost a year ago and in the second week of December alone, reports indicate that on average three people every hour were killed in fighting. Despite the increasingly volatile security situation, UNICEF continues to support critical services for displaced families in conflict-affected parts of the country including the capital city of Bangui, Bossangoa and Kaga Bandoro.
So far this year, UNICEF and its partners have vaccinated more than 480,000 children under five against measles. More than 47,000 displaced people—mostly in Bossangoa—have received blankets, plastic sheeting, soap and jerry cans provided by UNICEF. About 280,000 people now have access to safe water. UNICEF also continues to support child-friendly spaces, where children can learn and play in a safe environment as part of efforts to address the trauma experienced by so many children.
On Friday, UNICEF airlifted 77 metric tons of emergency supplies including blankets, soap, jerry cans, medicine, water purification supplies, plastic sheeting, and health and midwifery kits to Bangui. In the last 12 months, UNICEF has dispatched four other cargo planes of life-saving supplies for war-affected families.
"We must all do more," said Lake. "But the ultimate responsibility to end this cruel and bitter conflict, and stop the abuse of children, rests with those who are engaging in violence. Schools, health facilities and transit centers need to be protected. And those who continue to harm children should be held accountable."
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 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 additional information, please contact:
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kini Schoop, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.922.2634, email@example.com