- 2.5 million people affected by months of violence; most are children
- In one region alone, World Vision estimates 14,000 children suffer from malnutrition and 40 per cent of children have dropped out of school
MISSISSAUGA, ON, Nov. 6, 2014 /CNW/ - Children are paying the price of violent conflict in Central African Republic that is denying them their most basic rights to food, education, health and security, a new report by aid agency World Vision finds. In the Ombella M'Poko region, where the capital city Bangui is located, clashes over many months between armed groups has seen the wilful destruction of health centres and schools, and have caused severe food shortages, leading half of people living in rural areas to flee their villages.
Hunger has reached alarming rates and will worsen as the country enters its annual rainy season. Country-wide159,000 children under five years need nutritious food and are at risk of malnutrition.
Children are also being sucked into the spiral of violence. While some children have taken up arms to defend their villages, many others across the country have been recruited by armed groups to potentially serve as soldiers, cooks, porters, guards and even sex slaves.
The crisis is jeopardizing children's futures. World Vision estimates that four out of ten are not able to attend school in some areas of Ombella M'Poko, as a result of the violence. Some attempt to return to school, only to find classrooms littered with explosives. In some cases, schools have been used as places to dispose corpses after attacks.
Although aid agencies are struggling to deliver assistance outside Bangui, World Vision has been responding to the crisis, feeding children in schools that are still operating, working to improve hygiene and water access, while also engaging in peace building discussions with various faith groups.
"We're witnessing a heart-breaking situation for children in Central African Republic. When food runs out, adults go hungry, but children can die. Food prices have tripled in some areas which will lead to more children suffering and dying from malnutrition or related diseases." — Edwin Asante, response manager for World Vision in Central African Republic
"Many schools were destroyed, but this research has revealed that children have attempted to return to school only to find classrooms littered with explosives left behind by armed occupiers. Schools have also been used as places to dispose corpses after attacks." — Edwin Asante, response manager for World Vision in Central African Republic
"We've seen a rise in the number of female-headed households. Many fathers are dead or are actually fighting which makes children from those households even more vulnerable to violence." — Edwin Asante, response manager for World Vision in Central African Republic
"This crisis has not been forgotten by Canada – we have a history of supporting the people of the Central African Republic. The situation remains dire and it is important that donors continue to ensure children are protected, well-nourished and staying in school." — Martin Fischer, director of policy for World Vision Canada.
World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. Visit our News Centre at worldvision.ca
SOURCE: World Vision Canada
For further information: FOR INTERVIEWS WITH WORLD VISION STAFF IN BANGUI OR CANADA: Contact: Britt Hamilton - mobile: 416-419-1321, [email protected]