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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid