Date Published: 19 February 2009

UNICEF supports release of children from armed groups in CAR

The UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon has issued a report detailing the grave human rights violations perpetrated against children in the Central African Republic (CAR). The report highlights that children have been recruited by non-state armed groups and government-backed self-defense militias to participate in the ongoing conflicts in northern CAR. Mr. Ban notes that children have become victims of widespread abuse including abductions, rape and other forms of sexual violence committed by all parties to the conflict.

Mr. Ban calls for an immediate end to abuse and to the recruitment and use of children within armed ranks.

I appeal to the Government to address the prevailing culture of impunity for grave violations against children, including child recruitment, sexual violence and abductions, through rigorous investigation and prosecution,” says Mr. Ban.

In his report, the Secretary-General comments on the current lack of a formal Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) process in CAR. Mr. Ban urges all relevant parties including Government and relevant United Nations entities and their NGO partners to reinvigorate the process.

Recent signs of national reconciliation as well as an increased presence of international humanitarian actors have contributed to boost funding for CAR. Several donors have now committed to assist in accelerating the DDR process in the country. The Peace Consolidation Fund has set aside $4 million and the UN Peace Building Fund has allocated $2 million specifically for the separation of children from armed groups and their reintegration into communities.

Hundreds of children released

UNICEF and its international NGO partners in CAR are committed to reintegrate released children into their communities. To date two rebel groups operating in northern CAR claim to have released hundreds of children associated with their ranks. The Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR), northeast, entered a tripartite agreement with UNICEF and the Government resulting in the release of some 500 children. The Popular Army for the Restoration of Democracy (APRD), northwest, claim to have released 49 children from within its ranks.

The UN Peace Building Fund will support UNICEF and its partners in implementing a three-year program to assist in the release and reintegration of hundreds of children associated with armed groups. Transition care centres are currently being established in northern CAR to ensure that children have access to psychosocial support and are returned safely to their families. Related reintegration activities will reach some 300,000 children and women affected by armed conflicts; this includes host communities welcoming their children, victims of sexual violence, returnees, and Internally Displaced Persons.

On 17-19 February, UNICEF will host a workshop for partner NGOs aimed at establishing common standards and coordinating psychosocial, medical and legal support to released children, in a secure environment, before being reunited with their families.

The Secretary-General’s report further reiterates the urgency of concerted and immediate efforts by the Government, relevant UN agencies and international NGOs in providing assistance to all vulnerable children in CAR.


Source: UNICEF Main Website.
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