In the heart of Africa surrounded by Cameroon, Chad, and Sudan, the Central African Republic is rich in diversity, culture and resources. However, despite holding some of the world’s most valued natural reserves, including gold, diamonds, and oil, the Central African Republic is in a dire humanitarian crisis. Human rights in the Central African Republic are being violated at a high rate. However, aid agencies are working to eliminate these abuses.

This crisis erupted in 2012 when economic inequalities and ethnic tensions incited conflict. The violence is coming from two opposing non-governmental armed groups: the Seleka and the Anti-Balaka.

Under the control of these combat groups, many human rights in the Central African Republic have been compromised. These groups have attacked civilians, committed sexual assault and demolished villages. There have been more than 560 civilian deaths and upwards of 4,200 homes destroyed. This is likely a fraction of the full damage because of the lack or destruction of records.

With 1.2 million children affected, the worst human rights violation in the Central African Republic is against children. Nearly one in five children is a refugee or is internally displaced. This violence and displacement have resulted in one-third out of school, 41 percent under the age of five suffering from chronic malnutrition and up to 10,000 recruited by armed groups since 2013.

Despite these circumstances, there is optimism in the fight for human rights in the Central African Republic. In 2016, aid officials met in Brussels to discuss recovery plans, budgets and other efforts to help the crisis. At this meeting, the officials decided that the primary objective besides providing emergency relief should be building a foundation of basic social services, such as schools and clinics, to encourage a peaceful future.

Keeping to this plan, UNICEF trained more than 1,300 teachers as well as built and repaired 172 schools. UNICEF has also initiated projects to enhance primary healthcare, as well as expand access to clean water, sanitation, and education, and offer psychosocial care for children traumatized by violent experiences.

While human rights in the Central African Republic are in need of improvement, aid agencies are focusing their efforts on building a better future for this nation, hoping that the children who have witnessed these tragedies can build the solution.

Kelly Hayes

Photo: Flickr