|UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow briefs reporters at UNICEF House, following her visit to the Central African Republic; she was accompanied on her trip by UNICEF Regional Director Dr. Esther Guluma (at left).|
By Chris Niles
NEW YORK, USA, 10 June 2008 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow today described the people of Central African Republic as “without question, the most abandoned people on earth.” She called on the full support of the international community to restore peace in the violence-ravaged country.
Briefing reporters at UNICEF House in New York, Ms. Farrow, who has recently returned from a trip to CAR, said: "The Central African Republic has been called a forgotten tragedy, a forgotten crisis, but that implies that it was once remembered – and I’m not sure it was ever remembered."
Riven by civil war for more than a decade, CAR is also plagued by bandits who roam the north-west, kidnapping children and looting property.
‘People are afraid’
“The families that have been herders for centuries are now afraid to have animals, because that would be a sign that they … have wealth and could raise the money to reclaim their children,” said Ms. Farrow. “People are afraid to have a bicycle or any sign that they could pay these criminals. It is a terrorized population being held in terror by all these forces.”
|UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow and UNICEF Regional Director Dr. Esther Guluma (centre) speak with BBC UN Correspondent Bessan Vikou about conditions in the Central African Republic.|
More than 300,000 people have been driven from their homes by the ongoing violence and insecurity in CAR. They live deep in the bush with little to eat or drink. Rape of women and children is commonplace and rarely reported.
“The civilian population is completely terrified and they live far from the roads in the bush. At the rumbling of a vehicle they will flee,” Ms. Farrow noted.
Signs of hope
Ms. Farrow first visited CAR in February 2007, along with UNICEF Regional Director Dr. Esther Guluma. On her most recent visit, she said, there were some signs of hope.
“It was encouraging to see UNICEF and its partners are building bush schools,” said Ms. Farrow.
Even under the most difficult circumstances, lacking security, sufficient food, safe water or medical attention, she added, “still the priority for these good people, good parents, was to provide their children with an education for a future which they can barely envision.”