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Central African Republic: Humanitarian Action Update - 2 April 2008

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The Central African Republic is suffering from a multi-faceted crisis. Located right at the heart of the African continent, this forgotten country has endured more than a decade of armed conflict. The worst-affected regions are located in the northeast and northwest of the country where rebel forces and government troops continue to clash. Most significantly however, the past few months has a seen a real upsurge in the number of "Coupeurs de Route" attacks in the country’s lawless northwest. "Bandits" continue to target families; burning and looting houses, kidnapping children and killing civilians. At least 197,000 people have been displaced internally. More than 2,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are currently living in Kabo, a town in north-central CAR, located close to the Chadian border. A further 98,000 have been displaced into neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and the Sudan. In the month of February alone, thousands of new refugees poured into southern Chad fleeing "Coupeurs de Route" attacks in the northwest. Many displaced continue to live in the bush without any real access to basic rights and services. The past three months has also seen a surge in attacks on humanitarian personnel.

Despite the difficult and often hazardous working conditions that prevail across northern CAR, UNICEF continues to have a strong field presence. Field offices in the northeast (Kaga Bandoro) and northwest (Bossangoa) ensure that UNICEF and their partners continue to address the needs of the country’s most vulnerable.  It must be noted that about 30 relief organisations are now operating in the remote northeast and northwest regions of CAR, revealing a significant increase in the aid presence since 2006, when only five NGOs worked in the landlocked country.

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