There are approximately 1.85 million children in the Central African Republic, and 350,000 of them are orphans, some reports estimate that 72,000 of these are orphaned through AIDS, others double that figure. Most children in the CAR are orphans because of the ongoing conflict there which has reduced life expectancy to just fifty years with children aged 14yrs or younger comprising 41% of the country's population. Whatever the actual orphan figures, these children face an even bleaker future than others in the war torn country.
Many children become orphans in the Central African Republic because of AIDS and the high maternal mortality rate which stands at 890 deaths for every 100,000 live births, the fourth highest such mortality rate in the world and the fifth highest infant mortality rate in the world. Health and educational outcomes are already poor so, as ever, these orphans, unless taken in and cared for by family or one of the humanitarian aid agencies, are unlikely to develop the life skills required to make a successful journey into adulthood.
Indeed 38% of all orphans in the Central African republic suffer from malnutrition in a country where 67% of the entire population live on less than a dollar a day, less than 66% have access to clean water and one week's earnings can just about buy a chicken. 43% of children under 5yrs in the CAR suffer from moderate or severe stunting according to the World Health Organisation and in rural communities just 28% of children have access to improved sanitation rising to 43% in urban areas not that living in places like Bangui necessarily leads to better outcome as around 25% of the population there is unemployed without an income.
Many of these orphans will end up on the streets where they will be at increased risk of child trafficking and abducted for forced labour, domestic servitude and sexual exploitation. Many of these orphans are also sold abroad to Cameroon, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Because the Central African Republic is considered such a dangerous country following decades of internal conflict particularly around the neighbouring nations of Chad, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo and with the Lord's Resistance Army carrying out incursions into the country often abducting children and forcing them to take up arms, few charities are able to operate in there as the government is unable to ensure their security.
One such charity is SOS Children's Village who operate a number of facilities in the Central African Republic so if you are interested in sponsoring one of the Central African Republic's many orphans why not pay their website a visit, oh, and while you're there make a donation!
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