African Press Association

CAR’s 1 million minors threatened

Child soldiers

from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – THE future of 1 million children in the Central African Republic, including hundreds recruited into armed groups, is under threat following the country’s crisis worsening.

While the country’s fragile situation continues, sporadic violence and instability remains an issue, an estimated 900 000 people remain displaced and more than 2,2 million people – half of them children – are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Some 463 000 civilians have sought refuge in Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo.

It is estimated that around half of those displaced are children.
The situation for children inside the country remains calamitous as violence and widespread displacement have made children especially vulnerable to health risks, exploitation and abuse.

Nearly half of children under five (41%) suffer from chronic malnutrition that jeopardizes their physical and intellectual development amid fear 1 in 7 children will die before they reach their fifth birthday.

Despite leaders of armed groups signing a commitment to release all the children within their ranks, 7 000 have been released but hundreds more are still enrolled.

“We cannot allow the Central African Republic to become a forgotten crisis,” said Christine Muhigana, United Nations Children’s Fund CAR representative said.

“The reality is that without sufficient support we will not be able to provide the vital services that are needed to keep children healthy, safe and in school.”

UNICEF is facing a US$32,6 million (R437,5 million) funding gap to provide life-saving assistance to children and families in the country.

UNICEF’s 2016 appeal was less than 56 percent funded.

Humanitarian access remains a pressing issue, with CAR being considered as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for humanitarian workers.

In March, there were 14 incidents involving humanitarian organisations.

– CAJ News