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December 1, 2018

1.5m children in C Africa need emergency aid: UN


December 1, 2018

GENEVA: Two-thirds of all children in Central African Republic need emergency aid, the UN said on Friday, sounding an alarm about the impoverished country’s worsening "neglected" crisis.

Some 1.5 million children nationwide are in need of humanitarian assistance, an increase of 300,000 compared with 2016, the United Nations children’s agency Unicef said in a new report.

The agency’s top representative in the country, Christine Muhigana, told reporters in Geneva that the situation in CAR is "probably even worse" than during the country’s sectarian conflict of 2013.

That year, longtime leader Francois Bozize, a Christian, was overthrown by a predominantly Muslim rebel alliance called the Seleka. Much of the country, roughly the size of France, is now controlled by rival militia groups.

"What we are trying to do under these extraordinary circumstances is to keep children alive," Muhigana said. Beyond those in need of aid, Unicef said that one in four children are either internally displaced or have fled the country as refugees.

Responding to those in need has also become increasingly difficult as attacks on aid workers in CAR have quadrupled this year. CAR recorded 67 attacks targeting aid workers through all of 2017, compared with 294 such incidents in the first eight-and-a-half months of this year, according to Unicef.

Muhigana called the emergency in CAR "one of the most neglected" in the world. Unicef’s warning follows a horrific spate of violence in the central region of Alindao. The archbishop of the capital Bangui, Cardinal Dieudonne Nzapalainga, said this week that atrocities since November 15 have included the immolation of children and the elderly.

An internal UN report last week put the death toll at at least 60 after clashes between Christian militiamen, known as anti-Balaka, and the Muslim militia Union for Peace in CAR (UPC).

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