Samedi Belvia Micheline, 11, smiles in class, at the UNICEF-assisted Cotanof School in the town of Boda in the south-western Lobaye Province. Classes are crowded, supplies are scarce and teachers have gone without salaries for years, but the school is one of the few to have remained open during the ongoing conflict. [#7 IN SEQUENCE OF EIGHT]
In mid-February 2007 in Central African Republic (CAR), children continue to suffer from ongoing poverty and growing conflict. Three-quarters of villages in northern parts of the country have been abandoned as people flee both internal conflict and the effects of fighting in the Darfur Region, which has spilled across the border from neighbouring Sudan. Some villagers have fled to nearby Chad or Cameroon, or have migrated south to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border; others are living in the bush after their homes have been looted and burned. Some 1 million people – a quarter of the population – are affected by conflict, with at least 220,000 displaced from their homes. Gender-based violence affects more than a third of women in the north, and most health structures and schools in conflict zones have been destroyed. From 10 to 15 February, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow visited CAR to call attention to the plight of children there. UNICEF is appealing for $13.3 million for the children of CAR in 2007.