Background: Measuring human rights violations is particularly challenging during or after armed conflict. A recent nationwide survey in the Central African Republic produced estimates of rates of grave violations against children and adults affected by armed conflict, using an approach known as the "Neighborhood Method".
Methods: In June and July, 2009, a random household survey was conducted based on population estimates from the 2003 national census. Clusters were assigned systematically proportional to population size. Respondents in randomly selected households were interviewed regarding incidents of killing, intentional injury, recruitment into armed groups, abduction, sexual abuse and rape between January 1, 2008 and the date of interview, occurring in their homes' and those of their three closest neighbors.
Results: Sixty of the selected 69 clusters were surveyed. In total, 599 women were interviewed about events in 2,370 households representing 13,669 persons. Estimates of annual rates of each violation occurring per 1000 people in each of two strata are provided for children between the ages of five and 17, adults 18 years of age and older and the entire population five years and older, along with a combined and weighted national rate. The national rates for children age five to 17 were estimated to be 0.98/1000/year (95% CI: 0.18 - 1.78) for recruitment, 2.56/1000/year (95% CI: 1.50 - 3.62) for abduction, 1.13/1000/year (95% CI: 0.33 - 1.93) for intentional injury, 10.72/1000 girls/year (95% CI: 7.40 - 14.04) for rape, and 4.80/1000 girls/year (95% CI: 2.61 - 6.00) for sexual abuse. No reports of any violation against a person under the age of five were recorded and there were no reports of rape or sexual abuse of males. No children were reported to have been killed during the recall period. Rape and abduction were the most frequently reported events.
Conclusions: The population-based figures greatly augment existing information on human rights violations in CAR, and represent a step forward in quantifying the protection needs of Central Africans. Government, donors, and international organizations should make use of this data to better inform advocacy, prevention, and response programs, to assist in fundraising, and to develop surveillance activities to monitor child protection concerns