Children at risk in forgotten crisis in Central African Republic

Far from the spotlight of the media and the world’s attention, a humanitarian crisis is playing out in the small, landlocked nation of the Central African Republic (CAR). A savage civil war has forced tens of thousands of people to seek safety in surrounding countries, and as of 31 August 2016, an estimated 385,750 people are internally displaced. Almost half of the displaced are children. The Commission des Mouvements de Populations[1] estimates that 61% of the IDPs are living with host families, and 39% are staying in open spaces and camp-like settings such as schools, churches, and mosques.

Children in a make-shift school in Central African Republic Children in a make-shift school in Central African Republic © UNICEF/Pierre Holtz

Security is an ongoing concern, with entire regions controlled by armed groups. Lack of access to protection services (psychosocial support, recreational activity centers, child protection settings to address the most vulnerable children, etc.) prevails in most of the areas identified as vulnerable, where serious human rights violations, including recruiting and using children, are perpetrated by armed forces and groups

Although the security situation has improved somewhat in 2016, child protection risks remain significant. The presence of armed forces and groups, intercommunal tensions, the return of refugees from neighboring countries, and harmful practices against children, such as accusations of witchcraft, female genital mutilation, and early marriage, are among the child protection risks in CAR.

ChildFund Alliance has partnered with UNICEF to support the work of the Child Protection Area of Responsibility (CP AoR). The CP AoR convenes a range of UN, NGO, and other partners to meet the needs of the Child Protection in Emergencies (CPIE)[2] sectors by producing inter-agency tools; building capacity; engaging in advocacy; and delivering support to field-based education and child protection working groups. The CP AoR is led by UNICEF and represents an “Area of Responsibility” – essentially equivalent to a humanitarian cluster – within the Global Protection Cluster.

I just completed a three-week mission in CAR and my deployment looked at supporting the Child Protection Coordination team led by UNICEF in revising the Sub-Cluster Information Management System to monitor the CPiE situation and response in the country. By this I mean:

  • Support the establishment/improvement of a system to monitor the CPiE situation (emerging and changing child protection risks and threats) and ensure that it provides data for the Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO), a detailed document that describes the overall humanitarian dimensions of a crisis situation and helps inform strategic response planning;
  • Support the establishment/improvement of a system to monitor the CPiE response (achievement of the child protection response) and provide data for the CAR Humanitarian Response Plan for 2017.

magnat-kavuna_photo_car_web

Magnat Kavuna at a psychosocial support recreational center in Bangui, CAR. The chart lists the 10 core child rights.

I also provided training and coaching to the CPiE Information Management Officer in the use of the Child Protection Sub Cluster Information Management tools, such as:

  • The Secondary Data Review (SDR), which is the compilation of existing information on risks affecting children that helps to inform the HNO process. SDR is a rigorous process of data collection and analysis of information on children risks available from different sources such as reports, assessment data, case management data, etc.
  • 5W (Who does What Where When & for Whom) Matrix, which helps collect data on the operational presence of CPiE. Once analyzed, the data collected provide information on gaps, overlaps, and performances, and allow Humanitarian Response Plan monitoring.

Magnat Kavuna is Information Manager, Rapid Response Team (RRT), Global Child Protection Area of Responsibility. A rapid response consultant at ChildFund Alliance, he has been seconded to UNICEF. Since he joined the RRT in May 2015, Magnat has deployed to Serbia, Ethiopia, and South Sudan, and provided remote information management support to Afghanistan, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Fiji, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Iraq, and Somalia.


[1] The Commission of People’s Movement (CMP) is an inter-organizational mechanism established in the CAR whose objective is to provide information on the numbers and population movement trends across the country through an analysis and centralization of secondary data from several partners (national and international NGOs, local, religious, and administrative authorities).

[2] CPiE refers to measures taken to prevent and respond to abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence against children in times of emergency caused by natural or man-made disasters, conflicts or other crises.