Central African Republic
The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict (A/70/836–S/2016/360) issued on 20 April 2016.
There were significant political developments in the Central African Republic in 2015, including the holding of the Bangui Forum on National Reconciliation in May, a constitutional referendum in November and the first round of presidential elections in December. A new outbreak of violence erupted in September between former Séléka elements, anti-balaka elements and members of the former Central African military, which critically affected children. A detailed account of the effects of armed conflict in the country is available in my recent report to the Security Council, which covers the period from January 2011 to December 2015 (S/2016/133).
The United Nations documented 40 cases of child recruitment and use, more than half of which were by LRA (21) and over a quarter by the former Séléka faction, Union pour la paix en Centrafrique (UPC) (13). Children were used as combatants, messengers, informants and cooks. Girls were also used as sex slaves. In addition, the United Nations documented the presence of an undetermined number of children manning checkpoints and barricades alongside armed individuals reportedly sympathetic or affiliated to anti-balaka and former Séléka elements, when violence erupted in Bangui in September. On several occasions, suspected anti-balaka elements used children as shields as they fired at United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) forces. Furthermore, the military leader of a former Séléka faction, Mouvement patriotique pour la Centrafrique, acknowledged having 43 children in his group. The United Nations engaged with him for their release, but without further cooperation.
There was a fall in the number of documented child casualties compared with 2014, with 62 children killed and 185 maimed, mostly during the violence in September sparked by the beheading of a 16-year-old boy. The ensuing violence claimed the lives of 28 children and injured 31. Anti-balaka elements were responsible for killing 28 children and former Séléka factions for 8, while 26 children died in crossfire or in incidents involving explosive remnants of war.
Sexual violence remained prevalent, with 70 cases documented, although the number of verified cases significantly decreased compared with 2014. Incidents were mainly attributed to former Séléka factions, in particular UPC, but also to anti-balaka elements and armed individuals of Fulani origin. A small number of incidents were reported to the police, but did not result in investigation or prosecution.
In the context of already fragile education and health-care systems, 19 attacks on schools and 12 on hospitals were verified, the majority by anti-balaka and former Séléka elements (UPC and Front populaire pour la renaissance de la Centrafrique factions). A nurse was killed in Bambari in March by anti-balaka elements who had accused her of spying. Two suspects were arrested and handed over to the police, but no action had been taken as at the time of writing (March 2016). Furthermore, 16 schools were used for military purposes, 14 of them by former Séléka factions. In a positive development, the Government signed the Safe Schools Declaration.
A total of 52 children were verified as having been abducted: 25 by LRA, 15 by anti-balaka elements and the remainder by unidentified armed men. More allegations involving LRA were received but could not be verified. While the children abducted by LRA were used as porters or looters or for sexual purposes, abductions by anti-balaka elements were mainly for ransom.
Humanitarian access remained a major concern, with 140 verified incidents affecting humanitarians. Unidentified armed individuals or alleged affiliates of anti balaka and former Séléka elements, often for financial gain, systematically impeded the provision of humanitarian assistance.
The United Nations continued to engage with some former Séléka factions, local anti-balaka commanders and other armed groups. That interaction culminated with the signing of an agreement by 10 armed groups on 5 May, on the margins of the Bangui Forum on National Reconciliation, to end and prevent the recruitment and use of, and other grave violations against, children. Since the agreement was signed, 1,446 children have been separated from armed groups and space has opened for the United Nations to discuss commitments to end grave violations, especially with a number of the former Séléka factions. With regard to the anti-balaka, the United Nations engaged with local commanders, which led to the separation of children.
In total, 2,679 children were separated from armed groups: almost 89 per cent from anti-balaka elements and 10 per cent from former Séléka elements. UNICEF and its partners developed community-based approaches to reintegrate the children.
Allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against children by MINUSCA military and police personnel were recorded, including four from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one each from Burundi, the Congo, Gabon and Morocco and two by unknown perpetrators. As at December, investigations were continuing regarding seven allegations, with one involving personnel from Morocco and one involving personnel from the Democratic Republic of the Congo found to be unsubstantiated. Three allegations were also reported against members of the Sangaris force and contingents of the European Union-led peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic. Furthermore, many new allegations involving personnel of the Sangaris force and MINUSCA were received in 2016 and were being investigated at the time of writing (March 2016).
Parties in the Central African Republic
1. Ex-Séléka coalition and associated armed groupsa,b,c,d
2. Local defence militias known as the anti-Balakaa,b,c
3. Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) a,b,c, e
* The parties underlined have been in the annexes for at least five years and are therefore considered persistent perpetrators.
(a) Parties that recruit and use children.
(b) Parties that kill and maim children.
(c)Parties that commit rape and other forms of sexual violence against children.
(d)Parties that engage in attacks on schools and/or hospitals.
(e) Parties that abduct children.