The situation in the Central African Republic remains one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises, the United Nations refugee agency warned today, with more than 187,000 refugees having fled to neighboring countries over the last year, bringing the total number of refugees and internally displaced people over 850,000, about a fifth of the country’s entire population.
The figure was half a million less than at the end of December 2013, after Bangui was captured by the anti-Balaka militia, an event that triggered fresh violence and displacement according to UNHCR. Insecurity quickly degenerated into chaos, displacing close to 1 million people inside the country and across borders and prompting the entire UN system to respond to the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis.
“The one-year anniversary of the conflict marks one year that children have been out of school, a year of learning lost, and a year of their lives scarred and shattered,” said Sarah Crowe of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
UNICEF launched a campaign in November that aimed to help return hundreds of thousands of children to school after the deterioration in the security situation forced many teachers and students to flee.
The “Back to School” initiative aimed to help a total of 662,000 children to resume their studies, and UNICEF is delivering “school in a box” kits that contain essential equipment, such as exercise books and pencils, and school backpacks, to enable children to resume their educations. Currently, 300,000 children were reported back in school, a significant step that has had “a ripple effect throughout the whole community and lent a sense of momentum and optimism.”