News / Africa

UN: CAR Groups Still Recruiting Child Soldiers

Child soldiers recruited by Islamists in Mali (2012 photo)Child soldiers recruited by Islamists in Mali (2012 photo)
Child soldiers recruited by Islamists in Mali (2012 photo)
Child soldiers recruited by Islamists in Mali (2012 photo)
Lisa Schlein

The United Nations Children's Fund reports that armed groups in the Central African Republic are continuing to recruit child soldiers. UNICEF condemns this practice, calling it a grave violation of international law.

The U.N. Children’s Fund is calling for an immediate stop to the recruitment of child soldiers by armed groups in the Central African Republic. UNICEF is warning leaders they will be held responsible for this practice, which is a breach of international law.

The agency says the CAR has a history of recruiting child soldiers. It says before fighting began between the government and Seleka rebels in December, more than 2,000 boys and girls were associated with armed groups. It adds both sides in the conflict were recruiting children.

UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado says last month's takeover of the capital, Bangui, by the rebels has not stopped the recruitment, although the number of new recruits is not known.

"We have verified cases, but no precise number. What we are hearing from partners in the field is that there has been an increase in terms of the geographic scope and the magnitude of the practice… Children are recruited to be used as spies, porters, messengers, cooks, in addition to fighting on the front lines as well," Mercado said.

Since 2007, UNICEF reports over 1,000 girls and boys have been released from armed and self-defense groups in the CAR. Mercado says the agency and its partners have worked to rehabilitate these children and re-integrate them into their communities.

She says the new authorities in Bangui indicate they plan to identify and release children among the ranks of armed groups. She says UNICEF is ready to participate in this process and will try to ensure no new recruitments take place.

But, she notes there are no guarantees of success, as the chaotic situation in the country is exposing children to multiple dangers.

"The past four months of widespread lawlessness and insecurity and lack of access by humanitarian workers to large parts of the country is placing children at greater risk than ever. Almost all schools across the country are now closed and the health facilities we have been able to assess have been severely looted. UNICEF and the International Committee of the Red Cross have secured water treatment supplies for the next few months in Bangui. The situation outside the capital is unclear because access is extremely difficult," Mercado said.

Mercado warns access to the remote northern parts of CAR will get worse once the rainy season begins in April and May.

UNICEF is calling on the new authorities to abide by their obligations to protect children. It is urging them to provide law and order so humanitarian agencies are able to reach the children, families and communities that so desperately need assistance.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs