Central African Republic: UNICEF warns two out of five children without vital aid

Severely malnourished refugee child from the Central African Republic at a feeding centre in Batouri hospital, Cameroon. Photo: UNHCR/F.Noy

17 December 2014 – Two out of five children urgently needing humanitarian aid in Central African Republic are without it, thanks to a critical lack of funding and continued conflict, a year after extreme violence tore through the country, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said today.

“Children in the Central African Republic (CAR) are no longer making headlines, but over 2.5 million of them continue to live in constant fear,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “They have little access to essential services and rely entirely on humanitarian aid. As we prepare to mark the New Year, we must seize the chance to give these children a better future.”

The Agency received less than half of the emergency funding it required for 2014, while humanitarian access remains poor due to continued insecurity, with road barricades, looting and attacks against aid workers, hampering UNICEF’s efforts to deliver vital life-saving assistance to communities in need.

Communities the agency expected to help this year have been left without access to basic services, with 620,000 people unable to receive basic healthcare and medicines, 250,000 unable to access improved sources of water, 33,000 children went unvaccinated against measles and 5,000 severely malnourished children under-five not treated.

Nonetheless, working with local authorities and partners, UNICEF was able to make life-saving services, like medicines, vaccinations, mosquito nets and therapy for malnourished children, accessible to thousands of families in need.

“Behind the horror of rape and killings, there are many teachers, vaccinators, social workers, doctors on the frontline who take risks every day for children,” said Manuel Fontaine. “Without support, their life-saving work is under threat, and we are likely to lose most of what we have achieved this year.”

To carry out its emergency programmes in CAR in 2015, UNICEF is appealing for $72 million. The Agency aims to re-build social services, protect civilians, and engage communities to foster reconciliation and promote peace.

The conflict has torn communities apart across the country, causing nearly half a million children to flee their homes, resulting in the death or maiming of at least one child a day and the recruitment of up to 10,000 by armed groups.

Over 80 per cent of the 188,000 refugees created by the crisis and fleeing to neighbouring Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo are children and women, with a total of 430,000 internally displaced and over 16,000 people from minority populations still under siege in enclaves surrounded by armed groups.

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