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UNICEF Relief Efforts in Central African Republic

A girl is vaccinated against measles at one of the many UNICEF-supported immunization sites in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. ©UNICEF/NYHQ2013-0287/Matas

A girl is vaccinated against measles at one of the many UNICEF-supported immunization sites in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. ©UNICEF/NYHQ2013-0287/Matas

The humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) is severely deteriorating as armed groups commit “indescribable atrocities” and civilians desperately seek refuge. Next week, the U.N. Security Council is expected to vote on the authorization of a reinforced peacekeeping force.

U.N. Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson called for decisive international action to stem the violence. France pledged last week to send 1,000 troops after declaring that the country was “on the verge of genocide.

“Suffering Beyond Imagination”

Eliasson warned that virtually the entire population is “enduring suffering beyond imagination” with a third of the country’s people “in dire need of food, protection, health care, water, sanitation and shelter.”

UNICEF is accelerating its yearlong efforts to aid the affected — an estimated 4.6 million people including 2.3 million children. One focus: the flood of displaced families fleeing into Bossangoa in the country’s northwest. Many are arriving after weeks of living in the bush.

UNICEF is providing them with survival basics — plastic sheeting for shelter and jerry cans for water — and has helped establish emergency health services for 25,000 people. Around 9,000 displaced children in Bossangoa have already been vaccinated against measles; that’s in addition to 550,000 children who will be immunized through a UNICEF-supported national campaign.

“The Worst Crisis Most People Have Never Heard of”

The humanitarian toll of “the worst crisis most people have never heard of” is spilling across borders.  In addition to 394,000 people driven from their homes within the country, more than 200,000 people are living as refugees in Cameroon, Chad, Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

In these neighboring countries, UNICEF is working to make sure child refugees don’t lose out on their educations, distributing School-in-a-Box kits to children in Chad, setting up temporary classrooms in Congo and securing school supplies for 10,000 children in the DRC. A recent UNICEF survey shows that seven out of ten primary school students have not returned to school since the conflict begin in December 2012.

Watch UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow report on her recent visit to the Central African Republic.

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