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CAR Experiences Alarming Rise in Violence, Criminality

FILE - A young displaced Muslim girl holds a sign saying “No to Violence” at a displaced persons site, the Catholic church in Bangassou, Central African Republic.

The U.N. children’s fund reports an alarming rise in violence and criminality in Central African Republic, with children and women most victimized from the lack of security and humanitarian aid.

As the year draws to a close, a look back at 2017 finds nothing but shattered hopes in Central African Republic. The U.N. Children’s Fund says the year has been very difficult for children and women with little chance of improvement in sight.

It says violence and instability continues to spread throughout the country. It notes the entire southwest, which previously had been spared the crisis, is now the worst hit region.

Speaking on a telephone line from the capital Bangui, UNICEF representative in CAR, Christine Muhigana, says some aid agencies at different times of the year have had to temporarily suspend their activities because of threats from criminals and armed groups.

She tells VOA that children are losing out on many fronts, and 20 percent of the schools in the country are closed because of insecurity. She also notes violations of children’s rights are on the increase.

“We are talking about actual physical violence against children," she said. We are talking about them being recruited in armed groups. We are seeing such recruitment on the rise. We also are talking about attacks or occupation of health centers, health services that are being

Muhigana says immunization campaigns against polio, measles and other killer diseases have been disrupted in several regions because of lack of security.

UNICEF reports more than 1.1 million people are displaced both within the country or as refugees. That means more than 1 in 5 Central Africans have been forced to flee their homes since civil war broke out in 2012.