Latest field visits from UNICEF personnel to the Central African Republic (CAR) have revealed that hundreds of thousands of children across the country are facing a grim situation. Many lack nutritious food and are living in poor conditions with no access to clean water or sanitation. And with medical care services and medicines in short supply, children who fall ill are in great danger. UNICEF reports that a “climate of fear” is generally “hampering the delivery of humanitarian aid to women and children in desperate need”.
Many children in the CAR are also going without an education as schooling is increasingly affected by the ongoing conflict. The UNICEF CAR representative says that the continuing insecurity is “depriv[ing] children of their rights to go to school”.
Already, the organisation has provided over 140 metric tonnes of emergency supplies and is working with local partners to offer health, nutrition, protection, water and sanitation support “wherever access permits”. However, future funding is an issue. UNICEF’s emergency appeal for the country has doubled since the troubles began to 32.4 million dollars, but to-date, less than 9 million dollars has been received by the organisation.
Surveys conducted in 13 of the country’s 16 prefectures in the centre and west present an alarming picture. Of those people interviewed in the CAR, more than half of respondents said there were no medicines at health facilities or hospitals and a quarter said there were no medical staff either. Many health facilities were also reported as closed. Nearly four-fifths of respondents said their food-buying habits had changed, with more than half attesting to higher food prices in local markets. Over 70% of carers said their children were not attending school, particularly since many schools are being used as shelters for displaced people.
At least 200,000 people are believed to have been internally displaced within the CAR, with more than 50,000 having sought shelter in neighbouring countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo. Among refugees and the population as a whole, assessments from inside the country confirm that children are bearing the brunt of the instability.
SOS Children’s Villages has recently launched an emergency programme to help children and families affected – for more information, please see Helping families in the Central African Republic.