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Pope's visit to Central African Republic


Monday, 30 November 2015

World leaders must take inspiration from the Pope and not abandon the war-torn country.

As Pope Francis visits Central African Republic (CAR) he draws attention to an otherwise forgotten crisis. Amid escalating religious tensions, Save the Children calls for the influential visit to be the first step in prompting the international community to help find a solution to the volatile armed conflict that has gripped the country since December 2012. Three years of brutal civil war has left more than half of the 4.7million population in need of humanitarian assistance.

“Pope Francis’ visit is a strong message to the world. It reminds us that we must not abandon the country in this crucial time,” says Natasha Kofoworola Quist, Regional Director of Save the Children in West and Central Africa.

“The Pope could be the catalyst leading to peace in CAR,” she adds.

The crisis in the country has had catastrophic consequences on children. Of the 480,000 internally displaced people in CAR, 80 per cent are women and young children. Between 8,000 and 10,000 boys and girls have already been recruited by armed groups, with some children also becoming victims of sexual abuse and exploitation.

The security situation in CAR has seriously deteriorated in recent months, including intercommunity clashes in the capital Bangui and several other areas of the country.

“During the recent clashes in Bangui and in the interior of the country, many humanitarian organisations have been victims of attacks and looting. Most, including our own, were forced to evacuate some of their staff, which greatly reduces their ability to deliver aid to displaced people,” says Alassane Cissé, Save the Children’s Country Director in CAR.

Save the Children urges the international community not to forget the crisis in Central African Republic and to increase its assistance with long term financial commitments.

Peacekeeping forces must ensure they fulfill their role in securing and protecting civilians. They must also enhance security to enable humanitarian organisations to provide assistance to displaced people.

Additionally, France and the United Nations must respond to allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of children against their troops, in order to restore the people’s trust towards the international forces deployed in CAR.

ENDS

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Kathleen Prior, k.prior@savethechildren.org.uk or +447788 304 565

Notes to Editors:

  • Save the Children has been working in Central African Republic (CAR) since April 2013 in response to the huge needs both created and exacerbated by the conflict. Our teams are on the ground in Bangui, Kemo, Nana-Gribizi, Ouaka, Nana-Membere, Basse-Kotto and Haut-Mbomou, focusing on education, health and nutrition as well as child protection programming.
  • We reached 281,473 people through health interventions in six areas. Activities have focused on increasing the availability, access and utilization of quality primary and secondary health care services, and providing key curative and preventive lifesaving interventions. In addition, Save the Children has rehabilitated and equipped health facilities.
  • Save the Children has reached a total of 91,445 people through nutrition interventions, of which 89,859 were children. Through a community-based approach, Save the Children has focused activities on the treatment of children aged between 0-59 months suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and SAM with medical complications.
  • Save the Children launched education programs in the Central African Republic in August 2014 and has enabled a renewed access to education for 19,737 children across a total of 46 schools. Through strong collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Save the Children has successfully implemented a three-month catch-up education program and subsequent examinations, through the provision of technical, logistical and financial support.
  • Save the Children has provided key support in protection to 87,319 children and adolescents, of which 39,581girls and 47,738 boys, across six areas of intervention: Bangui, Kemo, Nana Gribizi, Nana Mambéré, Ouaka and Haut Mbomou.
  • Save the Children produced a briefing highlighting the urgent need to demobilise children from armed groups in the Central African Republic called Caught in a Combat Zone, which gives an overview of the situation for children in the country and sets out recommendations to key actors - the Central African Republic government, the UN, other governments, NGOs.
  • In May 2015, Save the Children produced a report assessing the psychological impacts of the conflict in CAR on school-aged on children.