Central African Republic
Central African Republic (CAR) is surrounded on all sides by conflict-affected countries. The wars and insecurity in neighbouring D.R. Congo, Sudan and Chad have all spilt over the porous borders into CAR.
The country and its conflict don’t attract much interest from the media or governments and so it’s hard to find funding to work there. The UN has described the situation in CAR as the 'world's most silent crisis'.
The need is dire though as it ranks as one of the least developed countries in the world and has some of the lowest income and school attendance rates. The coup by the Seleka rebel group in December 2012 threw the country into further turmoil, and the entire population of the country (4.6 million people) is affected. Over 200,000 families have been forced to flee their homes, and over 60,000 children and families are suffering from severe food shortages.
What we're doing
Children have been badly affected by the ongoing crisis, forced to flee to overcrowded, unsafe temporary camps where they are vulnerable to violence, abuse and disease. Many children have suffered trauma, been torn from their homes, separated from their families or have witnessed or experienced violence. Under these circumstances children become vulnerable to a wide range of violations, ranging from sexual violence to abuse and exploitation. Recruitment of children to armed groups is one problem that has sharply increased in the recent wave of violence. Up to 10,000 children in CAR have been recruited or forcibly enlisted by armed groups on both sides of the conflict since 2013.
War Child is working to protect some of the most vulnerable children in CAR: those who have been separated from their families. Through partner NGOs, Community-based Child Protection networks and local leaders, we are identifying unaccompanied children arriving or living in local villages and internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. Once identified, we assess their needs and ensure these children can access the right help and a safe environment.
We support the identification, documentation, interim care, tracing, reunification and reintegration of unaccompanied and separated children, including Children Formerly Associated with Armed Forces and Armed Groups.
The successive crises that have occurred in CAR have significantly affected the education system. A significant number of children and young people are illiterate thus highly vulnerable to different forms of violence and exploitation, including sexual exploitation, harmful traditional practices, early marriage, enrolment in armed groups, and involvement in child labour.
War Child UK supports vulnerable children to enrol in school, covering school fees and supplies and training teachers in child sensitive approaches.
Child Rights Clubs are also established to promote child participation in protection mechanisms, build resilience and life skills, leading to improved self-esteem.
Poverty is one of the root causes of the conflict in CAR.
The high level of illiteracy, compounded with high youth unemployment and internal migrations, have undermined livelihoods and coping mechanisms and may endanger the protection of displaced children and women.
Mothers and caregivers of vulnerable children living in IDP camps are supported in income generation through business skills training and income generating activities, which will enable them to support their families and avoid negative coping mechanisms.
Working with local partners
We work with a number of local partners in the CAR:
Association Femmes Evangéliques de Bossangoa (AFEB)
Femmes Hommes Action Plus (FHAP)
Enfants Sans Frontières (ESF)
Association des Femmes Rurales de Batangafo pour le Développement (AFRBD)