UNICEF Condemns Recruitment of Children by Armed Groups in CAR

UNICEF has clear evidence of the continuing recruitment and use of children by armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) and is warning leaders that such practices represent a grave violation of international law. According to UNICEF more than 2,000 boys and girls were estimated to be associated with armed groups before the latest upsurge of fighting began last December. The takeover of the capital city of Bangui at the end of March by the Seleka coalition rebel group has not stopped these human rights violations.

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

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

According to UNICEF more than 2,000 boys and girls were estimated to be associated with armed groups before the latest upsurge of fighting began last December. The takeover of the capital city of Bangui at the end of March by the Seleka coalition rebel group has not stopped these human rights violations. Recruitment of children for use by armed forces and groups has taken place on both sides of the conflict.

“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 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 more than 1,000 girls and boys have been released from armed 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 percent of the funds required by UNICEF for programs to protect children from conflict have been received.

About UNICEF

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when ZERO children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.

For additional information, please contact:

Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, smasur@unicefusa.org
Kiní Schoop, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.922.2634, kschoop@unicefusa.org