New York, US - Amid continued fighting in the Central African Republic (CAR), UNICEF and partners are setting up temporary classrooms for more than 20,000 children in the capital, Bangui, and in other parts of the country.
UNICEF spokesperson, Mr. Patrick McCormick, in a briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, monitored by PANA in New York, said: 'Many schools had been destroyed, and in times of conflict children really needed some form of normality in their lives.'
He noted that being back in class gave children a 'sense of a return to normalcy, stability, and hope for the future', while the UN agency works with the government to get permanent schools functioning again.
He also called for concerted support for international partners to enable the agency ensure that children get the desired education and protection.
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, who spent four days in January in CAR, had said that children in CAR are in desperate need of protection and support.
Mr. Lake stated: 'They are under assault and being killed in brutal, senseless communal violence, and there is an almost total absence of protection for children.
'For the sake of the children, for the sake of the whole country, we all must urgently scale up our work there,' the UNICEF chief noted.
Meanwhile, the Director of Emergency Risk Management and Humanitarian Response at the UN World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Richard Brennan, is currently in CAR to see first-hand the crisis and assess the agency's needs there.
WHO spokesperson, Mr. Glenn Thomas, said: 'The risk of trauma and infections are usually the most serious issues in a conflict situation.'
The humanitarian response for CAR is already underfunded.
PANA learnt that donors have pledged just US$ 60 million, or 11 per cent, of the US$ 551 million the UN and its humanitarian partners requested to provide relief and protection to 1.9 million people across the country over the next three months.
The crisis in CAR, which began when the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels launched attacks a year ago, had since taken on increasingly sectarian overtones, with violence displacing more than 825,000 people.