Crisis in the Central African Republic

UNICEF Child Alert | November 2018

Central African Republic. A child is treated for malnutrition in Bangui
UNICEF/UN0239441/Gilbertson VII Photo

In a neglected emergency, children need aid, protection – and a future

Two in three children in the Central African Republic (CAR) are in urgent need of aid amid an escalating crisis that has left thousands of children trapped within armed groups, and thousands more subjected to sexual violence.

The children of CAR need security. The places they go for protection and support – including schools, hospitals and places of worship – are increasingly under attack by the armed groups that control and terrorize around four fifths of the country.

UNICEF is working to get aid to children in desperate need, often in very dangerous circumstances. But the reality is that the response to the CAR crisis is chronically and critically underfunded. The crisis is growing increasingly desperate and resources are at breaking point.







Crisis at a glance

What’s happening in the Central African Republic?

In December 2013, Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), descended into violence. The situation fleetingly made international headlines, leading to warnings of a failed state and possible genocide. Now the few early signs of recovery and rebuilding in CAR have given way to a dramatic resurgence in fighting.

Who is affected by the fighting?

More often than not, the armed groups target civilians rather than each other. They attack health and education facilities and personnel, mosques and churches, as well as sites where displaced people have taken shelter.

How many children are affected?

Today, 1.5 million Central African children require humanitarian assistance. Meanwhile, there are almost 643,000 internally displaced Central Africans.


A deepening health crisis

In 2018, severe acute malnutrition rates among young children in the Central African Republic have risen above the emergency threshold across more than half the country.

And the situation is set to worsen. The number of children who are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition is projected to reach more than 43,000 in 2019.

Learning under fire

At the national level in the Central African Republic, seven out of 10 children and adolescents drop out of school. Fewer than three in five finish primary school, and just 6 per cent complete the equivalent of high school.

Children who are not in school are at high risk of exploitation, recruitment into armed groups or involvement in criminal activity. Girls are at acute risk of sexual abuse, early marriage and early pregnancy.

Central African Republic. A classroom in Bambari
UNICEF/UN0239531/Gilbertson VII Photo
Central African Republic. An internally displaced child plays at Sangaris camp in Bambari.
UNICEF/UN0239542/Gilbertson VII Photo

Children under attack

The number of people displaced by the violence is near levels seen at the peak of the violence in 2014. Many families lack reliable access to food and depend on host communities.

Around three in five are living with host families, most of whom are extremely poor. Many children were separated from their parents during the violence, ending up alone in displacement sites or living out in the open.

The crisis in numbers

How is UNICEF helping?

  • UNICEF has helped set up hundreds of temporary learning spaces and trained thousands of community teachers in CAR. It has also established catch-up programmes for children who have missed out on classes since 2014.
  • Between January and September 2018, a Rapid Response Mechanism led by UNICEF – and intended to provide crucial non-food items and water, sanitation and hygiene supplies to affected communities – had already reached almost 180,000 people.
  • UNICEF in 2019 will provide virtually all the therapeutic food required to treat severe acute malnutrition and almost all the emergency education supplies in CAR. UNICEF also supplies half of the vaccines required in the country, and procures the other half on behalf of partners and the government.

Take action

Help UNICEF meet the needs of children and young people caught in the Central African Republic crisis.