News / Africa

Hundreds of Thousands of Children Need Help in CAR

A young boy eats some of the leaves that a market-seller, left, is chopping up for sale at the market in the Bimbo neighborhood of the capital Bangui, Central African Republic, January 1, 2013.
A young boy eats some of the leaves that a market-seller, left, is chopping up for sale at the market in the Bimbo neighborhood of the capital Bangui, Central African Republic, January 1, 2013.
Lisa Schlein
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reports it is scaling up emergency operations for thousands of needy children in the Central African Republic (CAR).   UNICEF says weeks of conflict in the CAR have affected 1.8 million people, with 800,000 in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. 

The U.N. Children's Fund reports children comprise about half of the 800,000 people in need of urgent assistance.  It says the humanitarian consequences of this latest crisis in the Central African Republic are still being assessed.  But, as in all crises, it says children here too are paying the heaviest price. 

Armed rebel groups rose up against the country's President, Francois Bozizi, in mid-December.  The rebel coalition Seleka signed a peace deal with the president on January 11.

UNICEF spokeswoman, Marixie Mercado says some of the hardest hit areas include N'dele, Bria, Bombari, and Kaga Bandoro - all towns that remain in rebel hands.  She says children there are living in extremely precarious conditions and are in need of immediate assistance.

"For children, major risks include recruitment into armed groups and sexual violence," she said.  "But, in a country that is as poor as the Central African Republic where access to basic services is so precarious, the risk of epidemics, of diarrhea, of malaria is very, very high.  UNICEF is doing all it can with partners to restart services in the areas where for now, public services have just shut down." 

The CAR is one of the poorest countries in the world.  It has the ninth highest rate of child mortality in the world.  UNICEF reports eight percent of children aged 6 to 59 months suffer from moderate acute malnutrition and 1.9 percent with severe acute malnutrition.

In conflict-affected areas, the agency says fewer than half of the children are enrolled in school.  It says new recruitments of children are taking place.  UNICEF's Mercado says both the rebels and pro-government militias are recruiting children as soldiers.

"Even before the conflict started, we estimated that there were about 2,500 children associated with armed groups in the country," she said. "Recruitment is a huge concern and we are doing what we can with partners to make sure that everybody is aware of this risk and that families are prepared.  We have worked in the country on releasing and re-integrating former child soldiers since 2007, with thousands of children released since then." 

With the situation stabilizing in the country, UNICEF says the agency aims to reach communities that previously were inaccessible with essential aid.  It says it aims to provide emergency water and sanitation, nutrition assistance, medicine and hygiene for families uprooted by the crisis. 

It says other priorities include education and protection for children threatened with child trafficking, sexual exploitation and child recruitment.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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