This African Country Is Being Called The ‘Most Dangerous Place In The World For Children’
By Leah Freeman-Haskin
The Central African Republic is facing a humanitarian crisis on an epic scale that has largely gone unnoticed. The country, home to an estimated 4.6 million children, has descended into chaos and is on the brink of famine with an estimated 1.5 million children at risk of starvation, aid groups say.
A civil war between Muslim rebels and Christian militias that has destroyed the country and taken the lives of tens of thousands of its people is the cause of the chaos.
Much of the areas outside of Bangui are completely lawless with as many as 14 rebel groups controlling more than 75 percent of the country. With a recorded 396 attacks on humanitarian workers last year, the constant threat of violence has forced many aid workers to flee the country, making matters more dire.
Attacks most often target innocent civilians. “For these armed groups, it’s been their M.O. to attack civilians,” Lewis Mudge, a senior researcher in the Africa division of Human Rights Watch, told NBC News. “They burn, ransack and destroy villages and towns.”
Last year, the United States was the largest humanitarian donor, giving almost $120 million to the African nation. But many other countries have recently grown interested due to the Central African Republic’s natural resources and the wealth of gold, diamonds, uranium, and oil beneath its soil.
Although the Central African Republic’s government signed a peace deal with the 14 rebel groups last month, the country has seen few changes or glimpses of hope. Civilians are still being forced to flee their homes and crops due to impending violence, drawing the country closer to famine. More than 43,000 of its children below the age of 5 are expected to face an extremely high risk of death next year due to severe malnutrition, according to UNICEF. With the power in the hands of rebel groups, children are also facing the daily threat of being recruited as child soldiers. These combined threats make the Central African Republic “the most dangerous place in the world for children,” said Caryl Stern, the CEO of UNICEF.
The current state of despair seems to be worsening by the day, leaving Stern to ask, “Where is the world? How are we letting this happen?”
[Source: NBC News]