Central African Republic: “Indescribable atrocities”
“The atrocities that are being committed against the civilian population are indescribable,” said John Ging, a senior UN official after visiting the Central African Republic last month.
As new counter-militias form across the country, there’s a growing caseload of protection violations involving exploitation, abuse and forced recruitment.
Amid the escalating violence, children are particularly vulnerable.
“This has long been a forgotten crisis,” said John Ging, who is Director of Operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
“And now,” he added, “the situation of a breakdown in law and order, the takeover by the armed groups, means the situation in the country is chaotic.”
What had been pockets of violence are now growing. And they’re taking a new turn – in the form of inter-communal, sectarian conflicts.
“We are very, very concerned about what is happening now in terms of the attacks on communities and what that will then mean in terms of inter-communal tensions and the prospects for more violence,” said John Ging.
The visit was a dramatic eye opener for the UN delegation.
But for the local population, the situation is a living nightmare.
Renewed displacement and the recent escalation of violence have now left the country in a critical state.
1.6 million people – one person in three – now face a critical food shortage.
More than 400,000 people have been forced to flee their homes but remain within the country.
Save the Children is on the ground here, protecting children from violence and ensuring they have a safe place to play and learn.
Through our safe spaces scheme, children who have witnessed atrocities are able to get psychosocial support to deal with their traumatic experiences.
And alongside their deep concerns about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country, the UN team saw some signs of hope.
In particular, in Nana-Gribizi district John Bing said he saw a real “possibility of progress”. It was in this district that the UN delegation visited one of our ‘child-friendly spaces’.
Save the Children is working tirelessly to reach more children with urgent protection needs.
But we can’t do it alone.
Along with our international partners, we’re calling on the international community to act swiftly to prevent more atrocities against the children.
It’s vital that the ‘forgotten crisis’ in the Central African Republic urgently becomes a humanitarian priority.