|Mia Farrow reaches out to children at risk in the Central African Republic||16 February 2007|
President François Bozizé has awarded UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow a presidential Medal of Honour in recognition of her services to the Central African Republic.
The internationally acclaimed actress and humanitarian was in Central Africa last week to highlight one of the world’s most neglected crises – a conflict that has partly spilled over from neighbouring Chad and Sudan (including Sudan’s Darfur region), and has left some 150,000 people displaced.
While in the Central African Republic, Ms. Farrow visited several conflict-affected areas, including Birao in the volatile northeast corner of the country. Just two months ago the area was a battleground. Now the fighting has abated, but the population still lives in fear of renewed rebel attacks.
“Protection, protection, protection. Above all, that’s what people are in need of here,” said Ms. Farrow. “They are so eager to rebuild their lives and rebuild their villages, and of course they need help with that. But until there is security, no one can do anything.”
To help ensure security, UN peacekeepers have been given a mandate to protect civilians in the Central African Republic. But a date for their arrival has not yet been set.
Meanwhile, the country’s children need to be protected from measles, malaria, polio and other killer diseases. UNICEF’s staff are working to reach children in remote areas, but with heavy seasonal rains and poor infrastructure, access is limited.
In the face of these challenges, Ms. Farrow’s determination to reach out to vulnerable children and families – the very determination recognized by President Bozizé – gives them hope that the international community has not forgotten this continuing crisis.
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