News / Africa

UNICEF Re-establishing Basic Services in CAR

A woman from the Central African Republic (CAR) holds her baby in a refugee camp set up by the UNHCR in Nangungue, eastern Cameroon, April 12, 2013.
A woman from the Central African Republic (CAR) holds her baby in a refugee camp set up by the UNHCR in Nangungue, eastern Cameroon, April 12, 2013.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
A top official of the U.N. children’s fund said stronger peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts are needed in Central African Republic. The country has been wracked by inter-communal violence since December, pitting Muslim and Christian armed groups against each other.
 
UNICEF’s Director of Emergency Operations Ted Chaiban said children’s lives are at constant risk in CAR.
 
“Virtually, no children are still attending school. Children have witnessed violence. They’ve been subject to violence. We have evidence that all of the parties involved in the conflict are recruiting children as child soldiers. And there truly is a psychological impact on these children – to see the violence – to be displaced – to feel that profound sense of insecurity – when they’re supposed to be in school, when they’re supposed to be in their own communities with their families.”
 
Chaiban recently returned to the U.S. from C.A.R. after visiting the capital Bangui, as well as rural areas of the country.
 
“It’s basically a country where, for all intents and purposes, government has ceased to function. There is a government of technocrats trying to do its best, but government institutions at local and district level are no longer functioning the way they should,” he said.
 
There have been two interim governments since President Francois Bozize was ousted by Seleka rebels, including one headed by former Seleka leader Michel Djotodia. The current government is headed by Catherine Samba-Panza. She’s admitted the government’s inability to get much done.
 
“Salaries are no longer being paid. The economy is at a standstill and the situation is extremely tense,” said Chaiban.
 
In December, mostly Christian anti-balaka groups began revenge attacks against ex-Seleka rebels, who had been targeting their communities. Civilians have borne the worst of the violence.
 
UNICEF and its partners are trying to re-start basic services, such as education, health and water. Chaiban said one major objective is to protect kids from preventable diseases.
 
“Vaccinating them against measles and polio: We’ve been able to reach over a half-million children last year – 150,000 children this year, so there’s that sense that services are back again; Play activities through child-friendly spaces. It’s very important that children get a sense that there are normal activities going on around them -- that they’re doing the things that they should be doing in terms of being in school – in terms of playing with each other,” he said.
 
Recently, the group Human Rights Watch revealed evidence of civilian massacres in CAR. The victims included young children.
 
The UNICEF emergency operations director said there are attempts to have Muslims and Christians work together again to survive. Muslim communities may be pastoralists, while Christians are farmers. Also, Muslims are heavily involved in trade, bringing goods into the country.
 
Chaiban has some recommendations to end the violence and rebuild CAR.
 
“Firstly,” he said, “there needs to be a more robust mission on the ground. The Security Council is looking at a U.N. mission – both a political and a peacekeeping mission with the ability and the resources we hope to be able to work on a number of fronts: re-establishing state infrastructure, work on elections, work on reconciliation, work on justice and basic things like having a police force.”
 
He said the second step is “an acceleration of humanitarian activities.” However, the UNICEF official added a lot more resources are needed to do that.
 
The U.N. refugee agency estimated there are about 640,000 displaced people within the CAR. Since December, more than 80,000 have fled to Cameroon, DRC and Chad.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More