New York, 25 April 2013 – The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict is deeply concerned about the deteriorating security situation in the Central African Republic and reports of widespread violations committed by various armed factions of the Séléka coalition against children.

“The presence of children in the Séléka alliance has been reported in nearly every town under control of the coalition. Boys, uniformed and armed, have been seen patrolling, manning checkpoints and participating in looting activities across the country,” Ms. Zerrougui said. The situation of lawlessness and insecurity is also a breeding ground for re-recruitment of children. Last week, 19 boys formerly associated with the Convention des patriotes pour la justice et la paix were re-recruited by elements of the Séléka alliance.

“I call on all military commanders in charge of the different armed groups in the Séléka coalition to immediately release children within their ranks and to issue command orders to refrain from further recruitment and use of children,” Ms. Zerrougui said.

A large number of children were killed and maimed in the ongoing crisis. In Bangui alone, the bombardment of residential areas resulted in the killing and injuring of at least 29 children in the course of one week. Cases of sexual violence and rape against girls, including collective rape, by elements of the Séléka coalition have been reported to the United Nations. In addition, over two million children are currently in need of humanitarian assistance and many schools have remained closed across the country depriving 166,000 children from accessing education.

“I call on the Séléka leadership and on new transitional authorities to use their influence, take all necessary measures to end grave violations against children and to end impunity for perpetrators,” Ms. Zerrougui stressed. “The re-establishment of law and order and a peaceful and consensual transition are the only viable solutions for the many children suffering from the crisis.”

On 11 January 2013, the Libreville agreement was signed calling for the cessation of hostilities and the establishment of a National Transitional Council which would elect a transitional government. On 20 March 2013 however, the leader of the Séléka coalition announced the withdrawal from the ceasefire and launched military attacks, creating further turmoil in the country. The Séléka coalition is composed of the Convention des patriotes pour la justice et la paix (CPJP-fondamentale), the Union des forces démocratiques pour le rassemblement (UFDR), Union Forces Republicaines (UFR), and the Convention Patriotique pour le Salut Wa Kodro (CPSK).

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For further information, please contact:

Muriel Gschwend
Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
+1 917 367 35 62
+1 347 749 52 76