Education Cannot Wait Announces US$1 Million First Emergency Response Grant in the Central African Republic

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Responding to displacement, school closures and violence, new grant delivered by UNICEF and Norwegian Refugee Council will reach 18,300 children and youth

New York

Half of the children in the Central African Republic (CAR) have been affected by the increased violence, displacement, and closure and occupation of schools connected with civil unrest following the December 2020 elections.

In response to this complex humanitarian crisis, Education Cannot Wait (ECW) announced today a US$1 million first emergency response grant that will be delivered by UNICEF (US$600,000) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (US$400,000) to ensure access to education in safe, inclusive and protective learning environments for displaced and returnee children affected by the recent post-election violence.

“This new wave of violence and forced displacement has increased humanitarian needs at a time when Central Africans are already dealing with the crippling consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, years of conflict and insecurity, and the devastating impacts of climate change and other crises,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait, the UN’s global fund for education in emergencies. “Once again, children bear the brunt of the crisis. Their education is disrupted, their rights violated; they are experiencing violence, being separated from their families, and at risk of being recruited into armed groups. Due to school closures, girls are suffering sexual violence, being forced into early marriage and are exposed to other risks that no child should ever have to face. They need the support of the world, and they need it now.”

First Emergency Response

An estimated 1.4 million students have been affected by school closures in the Central African Republic. Some of these students may never return to school. Analysis carried out in Bangui shows an increase in sexual violence against children, particularly girls, during the closure of schools.

In all, the conflict has forced nearly 200,000 people – almost half of them children – to flee their homes. While many have since returned home, around 100,000 people remain displaced. This brings the total number of displaced people to 1.5 million, or nearly one-third of the country’s total population.

The ECW First Emergency Response grant targets 18,300 conflict-affected girls and boys aged 3 to 18, of whom 60 per cent are girls and 10 per cent are children with disabilities. The ECW funding will be used to provide safe, clean, and inclusive learning spaces with basic learning materials.

“The extensive disruption of education over the past year alone risks having profound consequences in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Central African children, already affected by years of crisis,” said Fran Equiza, UNICEF Representative in CAR. “We are very grateful to Education Cannot Wait for this generous and timely contribution that will allow us to improve equitable and inclusive access to education for the most vulnerable children and to keep them in school. We will also be able to invest further into alternative learning opportunities – such as accelerated classes and radio education – for out-of-school children, in combination with psychosocial support – a crucial need in such an emergency context.”

“Improving access to quality education for children and youth affected by displacement through support to public education and opening up out-of-school children and adolescents to alternative learning opportunities is the goal of the Norwegian Refugee Council’s CAR education programme,” said Powel Tchatat, Country Director for NRC CAR. “Thanks to the ECW funds, NRC will improve the education of 7,498 children (including 60 per cent girls and 10 per cent children with disabilities) in the Ombella-M’Poko prefecture. The intervention will focus on access and retention in a safe, inclusive, protective and quality education system through back-to-school campaigns, construction of classrooms, provision of school kits and dignity kits, water and sanitation services in school, payment of incentives and training for teachers.”

ECW’s Regional Response

In response to the displacement and violence in CAR, ECW has approved First Emergency Responses in neighboring CameroonChad, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The total regional First Emergency Response grants now amount to US$5 million, aiming to reach over 43,000 children and youth overall (of whom 56 per cent are girls).

An additional US$3.8 million has been allocated for ECW’s COVID-19 education in emergency response in the region.

An ongoing multi-year resilience programme in the Central African Republic seeks to mobilize US$77.6 million in additional funding to reach an estimated 900,000 children.

“To respond to this crisis, world leaders need to come together to fully fund educational programmes in the Central African Republic and across the region, and join ECW’s global movement to mobilize US$400 million to provide millions of children worldwide with the hope and opportunity of an education,” said Sherif.

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