Children bearing brunt of Central African Republic’s troubles, says UNICEF official

21 October 2009
Hilde Johnson talks to a participant in a UNICEF-sponsored programme for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

Children in the Central African Republic (CAR) are paying a heavy price for the troubles faced by the country, and their plight could worsen without urgent international support, said a senior official with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Children in the Central African Republic (CAR) are paying a heavy price for the troubles faced by the country, and their plight could worsen without urgent international support, said a senior official with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“Children in CAR are in the eye of a storm,” the agency’s Deputy Executive Director, Hilde Johnson, said during a visit to the country last week.

“The problems they are facing today will only be exacerbated by the triple threat of instability, the dwindling State budget and decline in donor spending,” she added.

CAR is one of the most impoverished countries in the world and, according to UN humanitarian officials, the number of people affected directly or indirectly by conflict is estimated to be more than 1 million – out of a population of 4 million.

It also has some of the worst child welfare indicators in the world, according to UNICEF, which says that about one in six children dies before reaching the age of five.

In addition, only 38 per cent of girls and 53 per cent of boys of official primary school age are enrolled in school, and many drop out before finishing the last primary grade.

The country’s health care system is also one of the weakest in the world and basic services are almost nonexistent, the agency noted in a news release.

The global economic crisis, coupled with a 39 per cent funding gap in humanitarian aid is only making the situation worse.

“CAR has been a donor orphan for a while,” said Ms. Johnson, “but at this juncture, the risk of further crisis is too significant to ignore. The limited resources available in this country are in no way commensurate with the enormous needs and dismal indicators.”

The Deputy Executive Director, who also visited neighbouring Chad during her trip, stressed the need for financial, political and diplomatic support by international partners to ensure the rights of Central African children and to enhance their protection.

 

♦ Receive daily updates directly in your inbox - Subscribe here to a topic.
♦ Download the UN News app for your iOS or Android devices.