28 March 2014

Central African Republic: Renewed Violence Threatens Thousands of Trapped Children

VOA's Vincent Makori reports on the ongoing crisis in the Central African Republic. The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved on the ... ( Resource: UN Peacekeeping Force Approved for Central African Republic )

Dakar, Senegal — At least three children killed in an attack last night

With a new wave of fighting and vicious attacks in Central African Republic this week threatening vulnerable families, UNICEF warns that thousands of children, from both Muslim and Christian communities, are especially at risk. UNICEF has confirmed reports of the deaths of at least three children in an attack last night. In the past week of violence, eight children injured by grenade and gunfire have been treated.

"Enclaves of civilians are under siege and are at the mercy of daily attacks," said UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa Manuel Fontaine. "The ongoing hostilities represent appalling acts of violence against children, women and men."

"Lack of security continues to impede the efforts of humanitarian organizations like UNICEF to deliver life-saving assistance and protection in a sustained, systematic manner to the most vulnerable people in the country," he added.

In Bangui, violence has reversed the trend of IDPs returning home and led to humanitarian access limitations. For the first time in many weeks, the number of IDPs in the capital has increased from 177,000 to approximately 200,000, according to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The increased insecurity in the past days has forced UNICEF and the National Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (ANEA), to suspend their emergency supply of safe drinking water to some 2,600 internally displaced people who have been trapped in Bangui's precarious PK12 neighborhood for months.

Since January, UNICEF has regularly been delivering large water bladders by truck to the PK12 neighborhood. To reach PK12, the trucks have to pass through occasionally hostile crowds adjacent to French military and MISCA check-points set up on the outskirts of the neighborhood to help protect the PK12 community.

This week additional reports have been received of attacks on villages and mobile communities in the West of CAR. More recently, a reported grenade attack on a funeral in Bangui has left many civilians dead. "Violence and brutality against civilian populations, including women and children continue," said Fontaine. "This is completely unacceptable and the disruption of aid delivery due to violence and insecurity is yet another inexcusable threat against children and women in the Central African Republic."

UNICEF urges all parties to the conflict to promptly facilitate full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to people in need and ensure civilians are protected. Over the past year, children have not been spared the brutality of this conflict of which they have no part. Perpetrators of human rights violations have yet to be brought to justice and must be held accountable. 2.3 million children in CAR are affected by the conflict and we must do everything we can to protect them.

In 2014, UNICEF is requesting $62 million to meet the humanitarian needs of children in the Central African Republic. This includes $14 million to cover water, sanitation and hygiene needs.

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