The Central African Republic (CAR) has spiralled into violence and remains one of the worst countries in the world to be a child and “right now there are few eyes looking at them and few hands trying to help” according to the United Nations children’s agency.
“The past year, especially the last quarter, has seen a dramatic increase in violence,” Donaig Le Du, spokesperson for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in Geneva.
“There are now an estimated 600,000 internally displaced people, up from 440,000 at the end of April – a big increase in the past two to three months,” she said, pointing out 600,000 was the April 2014 count, after the crisis in CAR peaked.
“And there are still 480,000 CAR refugees in neighbouring countries. Out of an estimated population of just over five million, one in five is either a refugee or displaced, half of them children,” Le Du said.
UNICEF noted that as the country spirals into violence, the capital Bangui, is quiet.
“Roads are bad and with the rainy season and insecurity it becomes nearly impossible to travel. There is limited cell phone coverage,” she said.
Beyond Bangui, two-thirds of the country is controlled by armed groups.
“In cities and villages recently affected by violence schools are closed. Teachers don’t dare go to schools. Several NGOs have retreated, which means no health care. Supplies are looted – at one health centre, solar panels were stolen from fridges as an example, which means no immunisation,” Le Du said.
According to her horrendous reports on children’s rights violations have surfaced over the past weeks.
“Precise numbers are impossible to know but we know children have been killed; there have been incidents of sexual violence and recruitment into armed groups is happening. But there are less direct violations with lasting consequences – having to flee or take refuge in the bush; having no education or health care,” she said.
A specific of the CAR conflict shows little fighting between armed groups, which attack civilians and increasingly target the UN Multi-dimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission (MINUSCA) and humanitarian stakeholders.
An open letter to the UN Secretary-General from major international NGOs identifies the CAR as the most dangerous country in the world to deliver humanitarian assistance – with the world’s highest level of violence against humanitarian workers, accounting for a third of all incidents targeting aid workers.
The CAR is also the world’s least developed country, placing 188th of 188 countries on the Human Development Index.