29 kids starve, freeze to death fleeing CAR

2014-05-23 15:07

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Geneva – At least 30 children fleeing the war-ravaged Central African Republic have died in just a month from starvation, exhaustion and exposure after crossing into Cameroon, the on UN said on Friday.

"In the last month, the rate of deaths among refugee children has been particularly high," Adrian Edwards, spokesman for the United Nations' refugee agency, told reporters in Geneva.

Between 14 April and 18 May, 29 children, the youngest a baby and the eldest nine years old, had died after crossing into Cameroon, UNHCR said.

Many refugees fleeing bloody sectarian clashes in Central African Republic have been forced to hide in the bush without food or clean water for weeks on end, and are arriving in Cameroon in "extremely poor shape," he said.

Most of the children who had died arrived malnourished and gravely ill, Edwards said, adding that efforts to save them at therapeutic feeding centres had failed.

"Dehydration, hypothermia and severe anaemia were the main causes of death," he said.

The UN's World Food Programme said more than a quarter of the children arriving in Cameroon from Central Africa were suffering from acute malnutrition.

"That is well above the 15-percent emergency threshold," WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs pointed out, describing the situation as "dramatic".

At least 85 000 refugees have arrived in Cameroon from Central Africa since December – 80% of them women and children - and are spread out across 300 villages, according to UNHCR.

'Intimidation, starvations and death'

Deeply impoverished Central Africa has been gripped by crisis since mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in a March 2013 coup, but then were replaced with an interim government in January.

Splinter groups of Seleka rebels, however, embarked on a campaign of killing, raping and looting, prompting members of the Christian majority to form vigilante "anti-balaka" groups.

The two groups have unleashed a wave of tit-for-tat killings that has left thousands dead and close to a million displaced - most of them Muslims.

Edwards pointed out Friday that anti-Balaka militiamen had been attacking refugees along the way to Cameroon and had blocked the main roads leading to that country.

As a result, the number of refugees flooding into Cameroon had dropped to around 2 000 a week from around 10 000 during the final week of March, he said.

"The journey that people are making from CAR is a journey of intimidation, starvations and death," he said, stressing that many of those arriving in Cameroon and other countries were not only severely malnourished but also severely wounded.

"Newly arriving refugees tell us that many of their family members remain trapped in the bush in CAR," he said.

UN agencies and other aid organisations were working to meet the towering needs of the refugees in Cameroon, but funding is sorely lacking.

Of the $22.6m the UNHCR has said it needs for its operation there this year, it has so far received just $4.2m Edwards said.

The situation for WFP was even worse, lamented Byrs, pointing out that the UN agency had requested $15.6m but had so far received no funds.
Read more on:    central african republic  |  central africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


3 sports games you have to watch this weekend

Whether it’s date night or a braai with buddies, plan around these three exciting sporting games!



Everyday struggles of naturally skinny guys
And this year's Miss Bumbum title goes to...
How to maintain your mo, bro
Hottie of the day: Colette

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


There is a strong focus on social interaction and connecting with your friends. You may have the need to expand and connect with a...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.