New York– Important advances were achieved by the Central African Republic Government as well as by some of the armed groups in a context of persistent challenges to end and prevent grave violations against children, highlighted the fourth Secretary-General’s report on Children and Armed Conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) covering the period from January 2016 to June 2019.
Such advances include the Accord politique pour la paix et la reconciliation en République centrafricaine signed between the Government and 14 armed groups on 6 February 2019 which prohibits inter alia, grave violations against children; the ratification by the Government of the Optional Protocol to the Convention of the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC) in September 2017; and the signatures of Action Plans to end and prevent grave violations against children by three ex-Seleka groups*.
“Notwithstanding these positive steps, the security situation remained fragile in the country and boys and girls continued to endure dreadful acts of violence, with grave violations verified against 1,364 children as well as 138 attacks on schools and hospitals and 342 incidents of denial of humanitarian access to children. While the inclusion of child protection measures in the peace agreement was a milestone, mechanisms to tangibly end and prevent grave violations and verify compliance of signatory parties must now be implemented, as some armed groups continued their illegal activities in violation of the peace agreement,” urged the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), Virginia Gamba.
The most prevalent violation remained the recruitment and use of children with 473 children affected mainly through abductions, for lack of access to education or seek for revenge or security. Figures for all violations remain concerning especially outside of Bangui where insecurity prevailed, leaving boys and girls highly impacted by hostilities. Abductions, attacks against hospitals, including the killing of medical personnel, patients and the looting of medicine and supplies, as well as incidents of denial of humanitarian access all increased during the reporting period, with dramatic effects on access to education and health care for children and the forced suspension of humanitarian activities.
Rape and other forms of sexual violence remained underreported, mainly for fear of stigma, reprisal, lack of access or absence of holistic services for survivors and rampant impunity for perpetrators. Only five sexual violence offenders were arrested during the reporting period. The Special Representative called on the authorities and commanders to pursue accountability for perpetrators and strengthen mechanisms to bring justice to victims.
Preventing Grave Violations
Furthermore, the direct advocacy of the UN on the ground with armed groups led to the release of more than 8,600 children throughout the reporting period, making CAR one of the countries on the CAAC agenda with the highest numbers of children released. SRSG Gamba commended the invaluable work of child protection actors, often operating in extremely difficult conditions, which has the power to transform the lives of thousands of children.
Even though reintegration programmes were rolled out throughout much the country, one out of four children released since 2014 have not received reintegration support, partially due to lack of funding, insecurity and persistent stigmatization. SRSG Gamba emphasized the importance of reintegration programmes for all released children and called for the continuous support of the international community to ensure that boys and girls in CAR and elsewhere can benefit from sustainable reintegration support.
The Special Representative also called on the authorities to speed-up the adoption of the new Child Protection Code finalized by the Ministry for the Promotion of Women, Families and the Protection of Children. “I also reiterate the willingness of my office to support the authorities in the development of a strategy at national level to comprehensively address child protection and prevent grave violations in a coherent way as discussed during my visit to the country in May and in line with the focus on prevention in Security Council Resolution 2427 , she added.
* The Mouvement patriotique pour la Centrafrique (MPC) signed an Action Plan with the United Nations in 2018; the Front Populaire pour la renaissance de la Centrafrique (FPRC) signed an Action Plan with the UN in June 2019; and the Union pour la paix en Centrafrique (UPC) signed an Action Plan with the UN in August 2019.
Recruitment and use of children: 473 children (144 girls, 329 boys, some children as young as six years old)
Killing and maiming of children: 324 children. While this represents a decrease compared to the previous report (922), the numbers of children killed increased throughout the reporting period from 66 in 2016 to 114 in 2018.
Rape and other forms of sexual violence: 291 children. While this represents a decrease compared to the previous report (more than 500), sexual violence remained underreported for fear of stigma and reprisal and impunity for perpetrators.
Abductions: 276 children. The highest numbers were verified by the LRA (114 children).
Attacks against schools and hospitals: 138 attacks on schools and hospitals (Compared to 131 for the last report).
Denial of humanitarian access: 342 incidents with numbers increasing throughout the reporting period from 72 in 2016 to 120 in 2018. So far, 49 incidents have been verified for 2019.
Detention of children: 16 children detained for their alleged association with armed groups.
Note to editors:
Parties to conflict in CAR listed in the 2019 Secretary-General Report on Children and Armed Conflict
List A – parties that have not put in place measures during the reporting period to improve the protection of children
1. Former Séléka coalition and associated armed groups, including the Front populaire pour la renaissance de la Centrafrique and Union pour la paix en Centrafriquea (recruitment and use, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals)
2. Local defence militias known as the anti-balaka (recruitment and use, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence)
3. Lord’s Resistance Army a,b,c,e recruitment and use, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, abduction)
List B – parties that have put in place measures during the reporting period aimed at improving the protection of children
1. Mouvement patriotique pour la Centrafrique as part of the former Séléka coalition (recruitment and use, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals)
For additional information, please contact:
Fabienne Vinet, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
+1-212-963-5986 (office) / +1-917-288-5791 (mobile) / firstname.lastname@example.org