News / Africa

    UNICEF: Children Brutalized in CAR

    A Christian youth squats inside a burnt out car in Bangui December 10, 2013.
    A Christian youth squats inside a burnt out car in Bangui December 10, 2013.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Joe DeCapua
    UNICEF says children are being brutalized in Central African Republic. It says at least 16 children have been killed since early December, including two beheadings.


    Children in CAR have been both targeted and caught in the crossfire since the eruption of communal violence. Former Seleka rebels, who are Muslim, are battling Christian self-defense groups known as Anti-Balaka.

    But Jean Lokenga, UNICEF’s Chief of Child Protection in the country, said that kids have been vulnerable for more than a year.
    “Children in Central African Republic have been very much affected by the armed conflict, which started last year in December. And then that led to the overthrow of the former regime in March in 2013. The conflict resumed in September -- and then now since the 5th of December in Bangui,” he said.

    The fighting that began over a year ago led to the overthrow of President Francois Bozize. Former Seleka rebel leader Michel Djotodia is now president, but has not been able to control ex-rebels, who were not incorporated into the army.

    Lokenga said children have been affected in many ways.

    “Some have been recruited and used in armed forces and groups. Others have been subjected to attacks. And others were either wounded or killed, either in a targeted way or stray bullet.”

    UNICEF has confirmed the beheadings of the two children.

    Lokenga said, “These two children were not taking part in any conflict. They were only targeted because they were suspected to be part of the Anti-Balaka armed group, while these were children that were aged 9 and 10.”

    He said that they were just street children and not part of any armed group. UNICEF has also confirmed the mutilation of at least one child. However, the U.N. agency is trying to confirm more reports of brutality.

    UNICEF is calling all warring parties to stop the recruitment of child soldiers – and to release those already in their ranks. In November, UNICEF received permission from the Ministry of Defense to have unconditional access to military barracks. If any children are found they would be removed. They would possibly undergo some counseling and training to help them reintegrate. However, plans to visit the military barracks were disrupted by fighting in December.

    UNICEF has already helped thousands of children, including medical care, over the past year. It also plans to help them resume their education. The U.N. agency is also calling on fighters not to attack health and education personnel – and not use schools and hospitals for military purposes.

    Lokenga said the agency is trying to contact all warring parties, but says currently there does not seem to be a main spokesperson for the Anti-Balaka groups.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora