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UNICEF condemns new recruitment of children by armed groups in the Central African Republic

2013-04-12

Agency warns leaders they will be held responsible for breaches of international law

BANGUI/DAKAR/GENEVA, 12 April 2013 – UNICEF has clear evidence of the continuing recruitment and use of children by armed groups in the Central African Republic and is warning leaders that such practices represent a grave violation of international law.

According to UNICEF, over 2,000 boys and girls were estimated to be associated with armed groups, including self-defence groups before the latest upsurge of fighting began in December last year. The takeover of the capital by rebels from the Seleka coalition at end of March has not stopped such human rights violations. Recruitment of children for use by armed forces and groups has taken place on both sides of confrontations since December.

“Recruiting children is both morally unacceptable and prohibited under international law,” said Souleymane Diabate, UNICEF’s Representative in the Central African Republic.

“We have called on the new leadership in CAR to ensure that all children associated with armed groups should be released immediately and protected from further violations. The new authorities in Bangui have begun to demonstrate their intention to identify and release children among the ranks of armed groups. UNICEF is committed to working with them to ensure that there is an immediate halt to new recruitments and support a process of identification, verification and reintegration of children.”

Since 2007, over 1,000 girls and boys have been released from armed and self-defence groups in CAR. UNICEF has worked with its partners on the ground to provide these children with rehabilitation and reintegration services. Over the past four months, tension, insecurity and a lack of access by humanitarian workers to large parts of the country means that children are at greater risk than ever.

To date, only 25 per cent of the funds required by UNICEF for protection activities as a response to the recent conflict have been received. 

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For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.