At the 38th formal meeting of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict on Monday, Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, briefed on her visit to Chad, where she was able to reconfirm the commitment and determination of the Chadian authorities to fully implement the Action Plan to end the recruitment and use of children in the country’s national army.
Ms. Zerrougui travelled to Chad from 12 to 14 May at the invitation of the Government. During her trip, she met President Idriss Déby Itno who renewed his commitment to work towards an army free of child soldiers.
“I am encouraged by the President’s commitment and looking forward to seeing real progress before the end of the year,” said the Special Representative.
The Chadian National Army has been listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General Report since 2009 and has signed an action plan with the United Nations in 2011. The plan is setting a timetable for the release and reintegration of child soldiers as well as measures preventing future recruitment.
Since the signing of the action plan in 2011, Chad has not recruited children as a matter of policy but reliable mechanisms to prevent the recruitment of minors, investigate and prosecute violations against children still need to be put in place throughout the country.
While in N’djemena, Ms. Zerrougui also met with Government officials as well as United Nations partners and civil society.
During her visit she presided a workshop on the implementation of the action plan, which brought together representatives of the Government and the United Nations in an effort to agree on a road map detailing a set of short and medium term measures required to fully implement the action plan.
Chad agreed to provide full access and to begin a screening process of the national army in collaboration with the United Nations.
“This is a crucial step that requires the collaboration of the Government and all partners on the ground. Effective screening is the best way to fully verify that Chad is honoring its commitment to end the use of child soldiers,” said Leila Zerrougui.
The road map also stresses the importance of providing support for former child soldiers, including programmes to help children go back to their families and resume a normal life.
Finally, in the longer term, a free and national birth registration system needs to be further developed to facilitate age verifications and prevent the enlistment of children in the army.
“Chad has an important opportunity to bring its national laws, policies and institutions in full compliance with international standards. We must continue to do all we can to support the country by providing expertise, capacity and by sustaining UNICEF’s efforts on the ground,” concluded the Special Representative.
For additional information, contact:
Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
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