News / Africa

UNICEF: CAR a Fragile Country

An anti-Balaka Christian militiaman mans a mobile checkpoint near Sibut, some 200kms (140 miles) northeast of Bangui, Central African Republic, Friday April 11, 2014. The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to authorize a nearly 12,000-strong
An anti-Balaka Christian militiaman mans a mobile checkpoint near Sibut, some 200kms (140 miles) northeast of Bangui, Central African Republic, Friday April 11, 2014. The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to authorize a nearly 12,000-strong

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
UNICEF’s Representative to the Central African Republic said children have fallen victim to malnutrition and recruitment as child soldiers. He warned the conflict has growing regional implications.
 
Souleyman Diabaté was in New York this week briefing U.N. officials about the ongoing crisis. He said all of the country’s health and social services have collapsed.
 
“The situation in Central African Republic is not good at all. It is a fragile country, and the security situation is volatile and unpredictable. So working in this environment is kind of complicated,” he said.
 
A complicated situation grew even worse last December when Christian militias formed to combat attacks by mostly Muslim Seleka rebels. The inter-communal violence has left many civilians dead or maimed. Much of the country’s Muslim population has been displaced from the capital Bangui.
 
About 6,000 African and French peacekeepers are trying to maintain a semblance of order in a country too big for their numbers. The U.N. has authorized a mission to the country – MINUSCA -- consisting of 10,000 military and 1,800 police personnel. But it’ll be months before they arrive.
 
“We all know that the peacekeeping mission will be deployed in mid-September. But we all know that the nation won’t be fully operational In September. So between now and September there is a kind of vacuum that needs to be addressed,” he said.
 
Diabaté said in the meantime the current troops on the ground need to be better organized and better equipped. He said unless the world pays attention to CAR, neighboring countries
-- such as Chad, Cameroon, DRC and South Sudan -- could face long-term negative effects, including refugees and spillover fighting.
 
“We hear more about Syria. We hear more about [the] Philippines or Ukraine. But CAR is not getting enough resources to address the issue of the children in Central African Republic.”
 
Schools in the country have been closed for more than a year.
 
“Children are not going to school. So they are being recruited by the rebels, by the militia groups. Children are being recruited by force or sometimes they are joining because for them it is the only way to find food. It is the only way to find a way to take care of themselves,” he said.
 
The U.N. agency has managed to get some of the child soldiers released.  It’s set of goal of freeing 1,500 child soldiers this year.
 
Last year, UNICEF vaccinated 400,000 children in CAR against measles, yellow fever and polio. The target is to immunize more than 700,000 children against measles in 2014.
 
Diabaté  said, “We have also the case of malnourished children. We have a lot of malnourished children due to the crisis. Because when the crisis happened families were living in the bush. In the pediatric hospital of Bangui – the sole pediatric hospital we have for the entire country – the number of malnourished children has tripled.”
 
Diabaté said UNICEF has increased the number of personnel in the country from 70 to 200. They have access, he said, to most of the country, except the far north.
 
“Central African Republic is a donor orphan country. We have launched the humanitarian action for children for $81-million. But we have mobilized only 20-percent. So, there is a gap, which needs to be filled up.”
 
Diabaté said in briefing U.N. officials about the crisis he is echoing the voices of the children of CAR.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs