Why we have to stay and help in this war-torn country

Now that fighting here in the Central African Republic is forcing thousands of families to flee their homes, Unicef's role is more important than ever.

Share
Related Topics

 

Please donate to our appeal for child soldiers here.

This is a desperately poor country with many challenges even in peaceful times: nearly 70 children under five die every day, and 41 per cent are stunted due to poor nutrition. The situation means people's access to basic services is even more constrained.

Although the security situation in CAR is very worrying, we remain 100 per cent committed to these children. Despite the fighting, our work with the 64 children released recently from armed groups continues; their safety and wellbeing is our priority, and we are looking to reintegrate them in their communities as soon as the fighting subsides.

So we want to reassure readers of The Independent that the donations they have made to support our work with child soldiers here will be well spent, despite the fighting. In many ways it is even more needed than it was before and we are hugely grateful for what has been given; and hope readers will continue to be generous.

(Watch our playlist of videos from the Christmas Appeal here)

Unicef is different to other organisations because of our mandate to work in all situations and encompass all aspects of child wellbeing and rights; whether it be in middle-income countries where we advocate for equity for all children, or whether it be in emergency situations such as CAR.

When a state is said to have “failed”, as is the situation in CAR now, Unicef ensures that basic social services keep functioning and that children don't miss their chance to develop, learn and be healthy during their most critical years.

When it comes to operating in an active conflict zone such as CAR, it may be necessary to evacuate some members of staff, but Unicef maintains a minimum presence based on experience in key areas including health, child protection, water and sanitation, so that even with limited staffing levels we can launch a  humanitarian response as soon as access becomes available.

In CAR, as in all other countries, we have a dual role to play of negotiating (as part of the UN team) with government and other armed groups to create humanitarian corridors by which aid can be delivered, as well as carrying out rapid on-the-ground needs assessments; how many people are without shelter, water, food, medicine; and then with our partners, as well as support from Unicef in neighbouring countries, delivering aid by air or ground to the affected areas.

CAR is little known and receives very little in the way of international funding. Any money you can give will make a difference for children who are suffering at the hands of armed groups or who need support to make sure they can rebuild their lives successfully and safely in their communities. We will be here to make sure that is the case.

United Nations staff have been pulled out of the Central African Republic as rebel forces advance on the capital Bangui. A curfew is in force as citizens wait to see if the rebels, just 40 miles away, will attempt to take the capital. But Unicef staff are staying to care for 64 former child soldiers rescued from the militias and supported by readers of The Independent who have been donating to our Christmas Appeal for Unicef's work. The charity is the UN's children's fund but relies entirely on donations.

All Unicef's work with child soldiers in the CAR is funded by donations. Please be as generous as you can. Click here to donate. Text CHILD to 70030 to donate five pounds.

• £6 provides life-saving treatment for one child from fatal diarrhoea, pneumonia, or malaria, all diseases that the children are vulnerable to in the Central African Republic

• £15 pays for schooling for a child who has been rescued from an armed group – including providing all the books and stationary they need.

• £25 provides a child with all the essentials they need when they are first rescued. This ‘welcome kit’ includes clothes, underwear, toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, a blanket, mattress, and mosquito net.

• £62 provides vocational training to a child released from armed groups, providing them with a sustainable future

• £103 trains a teacher to help former child soldiers continue their education

• £150 pays for psychological support for one child who has been rescued

• £300 can buy enough toys for a centre for 50 rescued children to play with, to help them regain their childhood by having fun again

• £516 can support one child for a whole month. This covers the cost of everything they need at the rehabilitation centre, including care from dedicated and experienced staff, food, counselling, education, vocational training, and the costs for family reunification

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Security Advisor – Permanent – Surrey - £60k-£70k

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

MI Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – £25k-£35k

£25000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Geography Teacher

£100 - £160 per day + mileage and expenses: Randstad Education Leeds: This out...

KS2 supply teacher

£80 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recruiting fo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Abortions based solely on gender are illegal in Britain  

Abortion is safe, and it should be as available as easily as contraception

Ann Furedi
Photo issued by Flinders University of an artist's impression of a Microbrachius dicki mating scene  

One look at us Scots is enough to show how it was our fishy ancestors who invented sex

Donald MacInnes
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album