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Children At Risk in the Central African Republic

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said children in the Central African Republic (CAR) are facing a neglected emergency with two in three children in the country in need of humanitarian assistance.

In a report issued today (30 Nov), UNICEF said 1.5 million children now require humanitarian assistance, an increase of 300,000 since 2016. Over 43,000 children below five years old are projected to face an extremely elevated risk of death due to severe acute malnutrition in 2019.

In addition, the report found that one in four children is either displaced or a refugee. Thousands are also trapped within armed groups and thousands more are subject to sexual violence.

Christine Muhigana, UNICEF’s Representative in CAR, said the crisis was taking place in “the poorest, least developed country” adding that it was also “one of the most dangerous places” for humanitarian workers. The report said armed groups now control four-fifths of the country and the number of attacks against aid-workers more than quadrupled from 67 incidents in all of 2017 to 294 in just the first eight and one-half months of 2018.

Muhigana said children’s conditions in CAR “are desperate” adding that “practically all children” in the country “need some form of assistance.”

UNICEF said the crisis in CAR is driven largely by fighting between a dozen or so armed groups over cattle routes and lands rich in diamonds, gold and uranium. More often than not, the armed groups target civilians rather than each other. They attack health and education facilities and personnel, mosques and churches, as well as sites where displaced people have taken shelter.

As of late September, almost 643,000 people, at least half of whom are children, were displaced across CAR, and over 573,000 had sought refuge in neighbouring countries. Coupled with extremely limited access to health care, safe water and sanitation, the forced displacement translates into a malnutrition crisis for children-UNICEF

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