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10,000 Children kept from School in Central African Republic due to violence, says UNICEF

The U.N. Children's Fund says about 10,000 children in the Central African Republic have not been in school this week because armed groups are occupying their classrooms

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School in CAR
Students are seen in a classroom at a school in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic. VOA

Oct 01, 2016: The U.N. Children’s Fund says about 10,000 children in the Central African Republic or CAR, have not been in school this week because armed groups are occupying their classrooms.

School started last week across the Central African Republic, but UNICEF says about 400 schools have been affected in provinces outside the capital, Bangui. That amounts to one-fifth of the country’s primary schools and one-third of the nation’s children.

Herve Verhoosel, spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the country, told VOA he thought the rebels were specifically trying to block access to educational resources.

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“In some cases, [the rebels] are not even using the schools as a place to sleep,” Verhoosel said.

Elsewhere, they have set up checkpoints on roads near the schools, deterring parents and children alike with the threat of violence.

“In that case, it’s clear that the reason is they want to deny access to education to those kids,” he said.

He said the gunmen were members of several different armed groups operating around the country, and he vowed that the U.N. mission, known as MINUSCA, would strive to get them out.

“If they don’t leave those schools, if they don’t leave those 10,000 children to have the education they deserve, MINUSCA will use all that we can use in those cases to protect the population,” he said.

Education access limited

UNICEF spokeswoman Donaig Le Du told VOA that the problem has been going on for several years. She said access to education is a challenge because some parents need their children to work, some parents are too poor to send their children to school, and some children have been recruited by the armed groups.

Compared with other countries, CAR has one of the highest number of children associated with armed groups in proportion to the population, Le Du said. “Since 2013, basically between 6,000 and 10,000 children have been associated with armed groups,” she said.

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Le Du said UNICEF tries to work with the armed groups to release the children and allow them to resume a normal life, including schooling or vocational training. But, she said, “there are still hundreds of children in the Central African Republic who are currently used either as combatants or cooks, help, or sexual slaves for different members of those armed groups.”

“This has to stop,” she said, noting that the country, plagued by civil unrest, has historically been a very difficult place for a child to thrive.

“You cannot have another generation of kids growing up without health services, without being able to be immunized, with 40 percent of children under 5 years of age who are chronically malnourished,” she said.

‘We will be very firm’

MINUSCA’s Verhoosel said peacekeeping forces were doing everything they can to protect the population and reclaim the schools from the armed groups.

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“We’ll ask them to leave without condition and without any negotiation,” he said, “and in the coming days we will be very firm with those who won’t accept to leave under those conditions.”

On November 17, a group of government leaders from CAR is scheduled to meet with international partners in Brussels to discuss policies designed to stabilize the country over the next three to five years. (VOA)

  • Antara

    Education of the children must not be hindered for anything!!

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Experts Say Measles Victims Dropped Below 100,000 in 2016

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Measles Victims Dropped
Foriza Begum, background, a newly arrived Rohingya Muslim from Myanmar, reacts to her daughter Nosmin Fatima's scream as she receives a vaccination to prevent measles and rubella at a makeshift medical center in Teknaf, Bangladesh. VOA
  • Latest reports of WHO, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the rate of deaths from measles has dropped.
  • As per experts, a number of people who died from measles in 2016 were about 90,000, compared to 550,000 in 2000.

The World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the rate of deaths from measles has dropped 84 percent since the beginning of a global vaccination campaign in 2000.

Experts say the number of people who died from the disease in 2016 was about 90,000, compared to more than 550,000 deaths in 2000. This marks the first time that worldwide measles deaths have fallen to less than 100,000 per year.

Robert Linkins, of the Measles and Rubella Initiative at the CDC, said in a statement that “saving an average of 1.3 million lives per year through vaccine is an incredible achievement and makes a world free of measles seem possible, even probable, in our lifetime.”

Since 2000, some 5.5 billion doses of measles vaccine have been administered to children through routine immunization services and mass vaccination campaigns. The disease is contagious through air particles and can spread quickly. The disease kills more people every year than any other vaccine-preventable disease.

But the WHO says the world is still far from reaching regional measles elimination goals. Since 2009, officials have managed to deliver a first dose of the vaccine to 85 percent of the babies who need it, but there has been no improvement in that rate in eight years. And only 64 percent of the affected population has gotten the second dose, which comes when a child is four or five years old.

The WHO says “far too many children” — about 20.8 million — have not had their first vaccine dose. Most of those children live in Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The disease puts children at risk of developing complications such as pneumonia, diarrhea, encephalitis, and blindness.(VOA)

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Amitabh Bachchan: Privileged to be top most influencer for Unicef

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Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan: Privileged to be top most influencer for Unicef

Mumbai, Oct 25 : Megastar Amitabh Bachchan, who has served as Unicef Goodwill Ambassador for the polio eradication campaign in India, says he is fortunate to be the top most influencer for the organisation.

Amitabh on Tuesday shared a list of names of top influencers.

“Among top ‘influencers’ for fight against polio, a list by Unicef. Privileged to be the top most influencer. Thank you UN!” Big B tweeted.

The actor, 75, has been supporting and promoting various health and related issues such as childhood immunization programme, anti-tuberculosis campaign and the ‘Clean India’ initiative.

“Unicef Polio; World Polio Day, every child deserves to live a polio free life! I worked eight years on it and today India is polio free.”

On the acting front, Amitabh, who has wrapped up shooting for “Kaun Banega Crorepati”, has two films in his kitty — “Thugs Of Hindostan” and “102 Not Out” (IANS)

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Nearly 58% of Rohingya Refugees are Kids Suffering from Severe Malnutrition, Says UN Report

The report highlights the dangers these Rohingya minors faced during the attacks when they were in Myanmar or when they were fleeing the repression to Bangladesh.

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Displaced Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine. Wikimedia.

Bangladesh, October 20, 2017 : Nearly fifty-eight per cent of the about 600,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are children who suffer from severe malnutrition, a UN report released said.

The UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) report also said that these children were highly exposed to infectious diseases, Efe news reported.

“In a sense it’s no surprise that they must truly see this place as a hell on earth,” said Simon Ingram, Unicef official and author of the report.

Titled “Outcast and Desperate: Rohingya refugee children face a perilous future” was released at a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

After two weeks in Cox’s Bazar, a southern Bangladesh town where nearly 600,000 newly arrived refugees are crammed into a crowd of 200,000 Rohingyas who had fled earlier, Ingram described the situation fraught with “despair, misery and indescribable suffering”.

The report highlights the dangers these Rohingya minors faced during the attacks when they were in Myanmar or when they were fleeing the repression to Bangladesh.

The report also highlighted several drawings of children with uniformed soldiers killing people and helicopters spraying bullets from the sky.

In mid-August, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) carried out a coordinated attack on security posts in Myanmar, sparking a violent response from the military which led to thousands of Rohingyas in Rakhine state fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh.

Ingram explained that very little is known about what is happening in Rakhine, since humanitarian agencies have not been able to enter the region since August.

Most of the refugees “are already undernourished, since the repression also included the burning of food stores and the destruction of crops”, he said.

According to the Unicef estimates, one in every five children under the age of five is suffering from acute malnutrition and about 14,500 suffer severe acute malnutrition.

Ingram explained that the main danger of infectious diseases have been mitigated with the vaccination campaign against cholera, measles and polio, but much remains to be done to tackle these risks.

He added the situation worsened with the lack of clean drinking water as these children consumed only contaminated water which is another main source of infection.

With regard to child protection, the expert welcomed the fact that the number of unaccompanied children had decreased to 800, with the identification tasks carried out by the various humanitarian agencies on the ground.

Regarding sexual abuse or forced or early marriages, Ingram explained that for now they have only punctual evidence, but that it is a real risk in any situation such as in Cox’s Bazar.

What does occur relatively frequently, he said, is child labour.

In the area of protection, the essential issue is the status of these people.

Not only do they have to be recognized as refugees, but also that newborns in the countryside or along the way, he said, should be able to obtain some kind of birth certificate.

Unicef and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are negotiating with the Bangladeshi authorities the possibility of issuing birth certificates for newborn Rohingyas, but the talks are still in process.

The Rohingyas are a Muslim minority that Myanmar does not recognize as citizens and are therefore stateless. (IANS)