Wednesday, October 18, 2017

CAR Chaos

Children are starving to death in Central African Republic because violence has forced aid workers to pull out. Four years after a conflict began between Muslim Seleka rebels and Christian "anti-balaka" militias, Central African Republic had seemed calm in the early part of the year. But violence has flared since May, turning the southeast into a virtual no-go area.

 The number of displaced people has jumped by 50 percent to 600,000 this year, in addition to 500,000 who have fled into neighbouring countries. Rochdi said 400,000 children were not going to school. Overcrowded camps averaging 30,000 displaced people are fertile recruiting grounds for armed groups, so the United Nations is trying to clear out weapons and fighters and get people back home wherever possible.

"There is no humanitarian assistance there. It's not even half, it's nothing, because it was just not possible for humanitarians to stay there," coordinator Najat Rochdi said. "We started already seeing children dying from severe malnutrition."

Lack of funds had already forced aid workers to halve food aid and in some places stop it completely, despite widespread malnutrition in children under five-years-old.

The U.N. peacekeeping force is only 11,600 strong, in a country the size of France and Belgium combined. The United States and Uganda withdrew their forces after declaring victory in April against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a marauding gang notorious for abducting and recruiting child soldiers. Rochdi said their withdrawal "left a vacuum" and LRA attacks had continued sporadically.

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