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Central African Republic: A forgotten crisis

Why is noone talking about the Central African Republic (CAR)? Over 4.6 million people are currently suffering the effects of recent fighting there. Back in March, armed gangs marched on the capital, Bangui, terrorising the local population and toppling the government.

In the aftermath, chaos ensued: buildings looted, civilians killed, women raped. Thousands of the CAR’s most vulnerable were forced to flee into the surrounding forest.

Four months on, over 200,000 people remain homeless and there are still reports of people being ‘disappeared’ and discoveries of tortured bodies.

A hard place even without the violence

For the people of the CAR, suffering is nothing new. Even before this spike in violence, the country was ranked as one of the world’s poorest, with over two-thirds of its population living on less than a dollar a day. According to the Human Development Index, there are only 7 places on Earth where it is worse to live.

What is particularly poignant is that approximately half of those suffering the effects of this crisis are children: some 2.3 million of them.

One child in 10 in the CAR doesn’t reach their first birthday; only 85 out of 100 make it to the age of 5. To put this in perspective, this is 33% worse than the regional average. It’s also 2,660% worse than in England and Wales.

Enduring effects
As the situation begins to settle, the enduring effects are becoming clearer.

Most households have either lost their food reserves to looters or have exhausted them while hiding in the forest. Health posts and hospitals are critically low on medication, equipment and staff; on the other hand, admissions for severe malnutrition rise daily.

At the moment, a staggering 1.5 million people here don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

Generally, a crisis has to be of epic proportions to grab the world’s attention.  Well,  the CAR has that size of crisis; now it’s time for the world to take notice.

Mark Kaye is the acting Emergency Communications Manager for Save the Children’s Central African Republic response. Follow him on twitter @mk8287.

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