Geneva Palais Briefing Note: Children in the Central African Republic

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Douyassi Magnificat, 2, is fed from a pack of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), at the nutrition ward of the Bangui Paediatric Hospital in Bangui, Central African Republic © UNICEF/Sokhin

This is a summary of what was said by Christine Muhigana, UNICEF Representative in the Central African Republic – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

GENEVA, 19 December 2017 - 2017 has been a very difficult year for the children and women in CAR, and sadly we are not expecting the situation to improve in the coming months.

2017 has seen a dramatic increase in violence- the previously unstable regions, such as the center and the north west, have remained very tense. In addition, the entire south west- that had previously been spared by the crisis, is now the worst hit region.

Humanitarian access is constantly hampered by criminal and armed groups activities. This year only, 14 aid workers have lost their lives in the country, and the aid organizations had to temporarily suspend their activities in several locations throughout 2017.  

Children and women are of course the first victims: half of CAR population is in need of humanitarian support, that is 2.5 million people, including 1.3 million children.

With 601,000 IDPs (same numbers as in early 2014) and 538,000 refugees abroad, this means that more than 1 in 5 Central Africans have been forced away from home.

A few examples

  • Currently 20% of the schools are closed because of insecurity; the schools that are open have too many pupils and not enough teachers- half of the teachers are community supported and not officially certified- so there is a long way to go if we want to ensure quality education.

  • Reports of children’s rights violations are on the rise- in 2017, 50% more documented incidents than the previous year, twice the number of children recruited into armed groups-  And we know that the verified numbers are only the tip of the iceberg because of restrictions on humanitarian access.

  • Immunization campaigns have been disrupted in several regions due to persistent insecurity

  • Basic healthcare needs are not met -especially in regions where the NGOs are no longer able to operate.

As UNICEF Representative, I am very concerned about the lasting impact this crisis is having on children. We have a whole generation at risk of growing up traumatized, without proper education, without healthcare and constantly exposed to the most horrific violence.

UNICEF Response

In these extremely difficult conditions, UNICEF does whatever it takes to deliver:

  • Education: temporary learning spaces for over 50,000 children in 2017- we are hoping for more in 2018 (85,000). We are also working with the Ministry of Education to improve quality of education.
  • Protection: 1,900 children released from armed groups in 2017 only (over 10,000 since 2014); BUT we need money to provide them with reintegration support. (Just half of them have received the whole package)
  • RRM (Rapid Response Mechanism): through partners that are able to react when there is a humanitarian shock in remote areas, we have been able to provide Non Food Items (mats, mosquito nets, blankets, cooking supplies etc) to close to 25,000 households and emergency water and sanitation interventions to almost 72,000 people

This is a critical time for funding.

This year we received less than half (46%) the funding needed to meet the humanitarian needs. In 2018 the needs are growing: we are going to need every support we can get, if we do not want the children of CAR to be left to a terrible fate.

Notes for editors:
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UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

For more information, please contact:
Christophe Boulierac, UNICEF Geneva, +41 799639244Call: +41 799639244,
Donaig Le Du, UNICEF Bangui,
Thierry Delvigne-Jean, UNICEF West and Central Africa, +221 77 819 2300Call: +221 77 819 2300,;
Chris Tidey, UNICEF New York, +1 917 340 3017Call: +1 917 340 3017,
Joe English, UNICEF New York, + 1 917 893 0692,