While life-saving funding stalls, severe psychological trauma affects more than half of children
A new Save the Children study has found that over sixty per cent of school-aged children in the Central African Republic (CAR) suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), having either witnessed or experienced extreme violence during the protracted conflict.
“Close to three quarters of the children, aged between five and 16, are said to have directly witnessed beatings, killings, artillery fire, or machete attacks on either their own relatives or members of their community during what is now 29-months of violence and suffering,” says René Yetamasso, programme quality director at Save the Children in CAR.
A further 43 per cent of the children interviewed report being victims of physical abuse, shootings, or death threats, with 65 per cent often feeling afraid, a quarter too frightened to attend school, and a staggering 91 per cent having experienced fear of being killed or seriously injured.
More than half of parents also consider their local neighborhoods to be very dangerous environments for their children, and almost two-thirds of children either described themselves - or were described by their parents and teachers - as suffering from emotional, behavioral, learning or relationship difficulties, which could significantly impact their long term development.
“These numbers underline the disastrous impact the conflict is having on CAR’s children. If we don’t ensure those affected get the appropriate support to move on with their lives an entire generation run the risk of suffering for years to come, unable to get over their experiences or contribute to building a better Central African Republic,” warns Mr Yetamasso.
“Despite the huge needs, funding to support children in crisis in CAR remains negligible. To date, the humanitarian community has only received approximately one fifth of the total funds required for the UN Strategic Response Plan. While, education – vital for children’s learning, safety and psychological well-being – is 0% funded.
“We must urgently restore schools as physical and emotional safe places for children, as well as training communities, parents, teachers, and health practitioners to identify children with psychological difficulties and help them resume a normal life at their homes and in schools,” he adds.
Save the Children calls on those present at today’s international fund-raising conference in Brussels to ensure that the children of CAR are no longer forgotten and that the international community commits appropriate financial support to help those affected by the crisis move on with their lives.