10 years of crises: The forgotten children of the Central African Republic

This is a summary of what was said by UNICEF Representative in the Central African Republic Meritxell Relaño Arana—to whom quoted text may be attributed— at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

02 July 2024
Central African Republic. A child rests on a bed in the nutrition clinic at L’hôpital de Bossangoa in Bossangoa.
UNICEF/UNI451574/LeMoyne
A child rests on a bed in the nutrition clinic at L’hôpital de Bossangoa in Bossangoa, Central African Republic.

GENEVA, 2 July 2024 — “Today, the three million girls and boys of the Central Africa Republic face the highest registered level of overlapping and interconnected crises and deprivation in the world.

"The Central African Republic (CAR) now holds the tragic distinction of being ranked first among 191 countries as the most at-risk for humanitarian crises and disaster. This dire status underscores the severe and urgent challenges faced by its youngest citizens.

“Ten years of protracted conflict and instability in CAR has left every single one of CAR’s three million children at risk.

“There is a host of distressing data that speaks to the lives of children in CAR; I will mention just four, though the briefing note James shares has more data:

  • 1 in 2 children do not have access to health services.
  • Around just one-third (37%) of children attend school regularly.
  • Nearly two in three (61%) young women were married before the age of 18
  • Almost 40% of the children in the country suffer from chronic malnutrition.

“Weakened institutions and the constant threat of violence compound the multiple risks to the rights of children. The fact that the crisis in CAR has been stretched out over so many years – and that, sadly, so many other global crises continue to unfold in parallel - means that the children of CAR have become painfully invisible. But their pain and loss are profoundly evident.

“However, there is hope. Now is a critical moment; indeed, it is the moment for the international community to rally for a change of course for the children of CAR.

“The government’s new National Development Plan, alongside other major commitments to improve children’s rights, mean UNICEF and its partners have a viable mechanism to push for a change of course: to chart a new future for the children and the country.

“Amid this rare moment of opportunity, the greatest risk is that the champions these children rely on—international donors, global media, and an informed public—may turn their backs and look away in the face of simultaneous global crises.

“In my most clear and candid language: this will mean many children will unnecessarily die; many more will see their futures destroyed. A child is a child, and, as such, it is imperative that the international community does not forget the children of CAR.”

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Media contacts

James Elder
UNICEF Geneva
Tel: +41 79941 5298
Salwa Moussa
UNICEF CAR
Tel: +23670009706

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