Pope's Visit to the Central Africa Republic: World leaders must take inspiration from the Pope and not abandon the war-torn country

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FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Nov. 29, 2015) — Save the Children calls on the international community to follow the example of Pope Francis, who is visiting the Central African Republic (CAR) on Nov. 29, and help find a solution to the volatile armed conflict gripping the country since the outbreak of the brutal civil war in December 2012.

"Pope Francis' visit is a strong message to the world. It reminds us that we must not abandon the country in this crucial time," said Natasha Kofoworola Quist, regional director of Save the Children in West and Central Africa.

"The Pope could be the catalyst leading to peace in CAR," she added.

The crisis in the country has had catastrophic consequences on children. Of the 339,000 internally displaced people in CAR, 80 percent are women and young children. Between 8,000 and 10,000 boys and girls have already been recruited by armed groups, with some children also becoming victims of sexual abuse and exploitation.

The security situation in CAR has seriously deteriorated in recent months, including inter-community clashes in the capital Bangui and several other areas of the country.

"During the recent clashes in Bangui and in the interior of the country, many humanitarian organizations have been victims of attacks and looting. Most, including our own, were forced to evacuate some of their staff, which greatly reduces their ability to deliver aid to displaced people," said Alassane Cissé, Save the Children's country director in CAR.

Save the Children urges the international community not to forget the crisis in Central African Republic and to increase its assistance with long term financial commitments.

Peacekeeping forces must ensure they fulfill their role in securing and protecting civilians. They must also enhance security to enable humanitarian organizations to provide assistance to displaced people.

Additionally, France and the United Nations must respond to allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of children against their troops, in order to restore the people's trust towards the international forces deployed in CAR.

Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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