A year after extreme violence tore through the Central African Republic, two out of five children in urgent need of Unicef’s support are without vital humanitarian aid – according to the agency.

Unicef says a critical lack of funding and insecurity – such as road barricades, looting and attacks against aid workers – have left children they expected to help this year without access to essential health services, water, education and protection.  

“Children in the Central African Republic are no longer making headlines, but over 2.5 million of them continue to live in constant fear,” said Manuel Fontaine, Unicef Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “They have little access to essential services and rely entirely on humanitarian aid. As we prepare to mark the New Year, we must seize the chance to give these children a better future.”

With less than half of the required emergency funding received this year, and limited humanitarian access due to violence, Unicef struggled to deliver vital life-saving assistance that communities needed.

620,000 people were unable to receive basic healthcare and medicines

250,000 people were unable to access improved sources of water

33,000 children were not vaccinated against measles

5,000 severely malnourished children under-five could not be treated.

At the peak of the crisis, fighting and widespread clashes forced nearly half a million children to flee their homes. The conflict has torn apart communities across the country, leaving in its wake destruction and a collapse of basic services. According to UNICEF, an average of at least one child was killed or maimed every day this year in the Central African Republic. Up to 10,000 children were recruited by armed groups. 

“Behind the horror of rape and killings, there are many teachers, vaccinators, social workers, doctors on the frontline who take risks every day for children,” said Manuel Fontaine. “Without support, their life-saving work is under threat, and we are likely to lose most of what we have achieved this year.”

Together with local authorities and partners, Unicef was able to make life-saving services accessible to thousands of families in need.  Close to 1.4 million people received medicines; more than 1 million children were vaccinated against polio; approximately 550,000 mosquito nets were distributed to protect families from malaria and over 22,300 severely malnourished children received therapeutic treatment. 

At the same time, the crisis is spreading across borders. In the past 12 months, violence has caused 188,000 new refugees to flee into neighbouring Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo. Over 80 per cent of the people fleeing violence across borders are children and women. In addition, about 430,000 people who have fled their homes remain displaced within the Central African Republic itself.  Over 16,000 people from minority populations remain under siege in enclaves surrounded by armed groups.

Unicef is appealing for US$72 million for 2015 to be able to carry out its emergency programmes in Central African Republic, which aim to re-build social services, protect civilians, engage communities to foster reconciliation and promote peace. 

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Videos and photos from the Central African Republic can be downloaded here: http://uni.cf/1w3X7RC 

Notes for editors

For more information, please contact the Unicef UK press office on 020 7375 6030 or media@unicef.org.uk

About UNICEF

Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.  

Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children.  As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK. For more information please visit unicef.org.uk