The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warns of the “increasing risks” facing 370,000 internally displaced persons in the Central African Republic, the highest level since 2014.
At least 168,000 children had to flee their homes in the run-up to and during the December 2020 general election due to widespread violence and insecurity, according to a United Nations statement.
Approximately 70,000 of them were unable to return, bringing the total to 370,000 internally displaced persons across the country according to the latest UNICEF estimates.
“Displaced children are at risk of physical and sexual violence, military and group recruitment, increasing malnutrition and limited access to essential services,” the United Nations complained.
In this context, it was investigated that recruitment by armed groups remains “the most common serious violations of children’s rights in the Central African Republic”, accounting for 584 of a total of 792 confirmed serious violations documented in 2020.
The representative of UNICEF in the country, Fran Equiza, has denounced that the United Nations only verified more serious violations in the last three months of 2020 than in the entire first half of the same. 415 incidents affected 353 children compared to 384 incidents involving 284 children in the previous year.
“In June 2020, the government of the Central African Republic passed a national child protection code, which for the first time explicitly prohibits the recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups and clearly states that children should be previously associated with armed groups by men not as Adult treatment, “recalled Equiza.
However, UNICEF regrets that it has received unverified reports showing that child recruitment and use continued for the first four months of 2021.
While the Central African Republic has a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases, the epidemic has had serious repercussions, including a significant drop in overall vaccination rates and the shutdown and interruption of services for forcibly displaced children and victims of violence. according to the United Nations in the declaration.
The recent escalation of violence has forced schools to close, occupy or damage schools in 11 of the country’s 16 prefectures. “Every fourth school is not working because of the clashes and half of the country’s children do not go to school because of the conflict,” lamented Equiza.
In addition, at least 14,000 children under five in 14 of the country’s 35 health districts are at risk of severe acute malnutrition following increased violence.
According to the organization, six of these 14 districts currently lack the resources or capacity to respond to the urgent needs of children, while at least 62,000 children under the age of five are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition this year. an increase of 25 percent compared to 2020.
On the flip side, humanitarian access remains a major concern, with 115 incidents against humanitarian workers in January and February 2021, up from 46 in the same period in 2020.
“The Central African Republic continues to be one of the most dangerous countries for humanitarian aid workers,” stressed Equiza in this context.
Given the situation in the country, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has appealed to raise funds of $ 164 million (about 135 million euros) to help about 1.5 million displaced people.
The UN is also trying to raise $ 8.2 million to expand its activities to support children and women affected by violence, exploitation and abuse.