Central African Republic

The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (A/69/926–S/2015/409) issued on 5 June 2015.

The situation of children in the Central African Republic worsened as fighting between armed groups, including anti-Balaka and ex-Séléka, and attacks targeting civilians continued. In line with its mandate, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSCA) supported consultations to revitalize an inclusive reconciliation and political dialogue which resulted in the cessation of hostilities agreement, including commitments to end violations against children, signed in Brazzaville in July.

The United Nations verified 464 cases of new recruitment, including 446 by anti-Balaka (86 girls, 360 boys) and 18 boys by ex-Séléka. However, violations are thought to be largely underreported because of lack of access and limited monitoring capacity on the ground.

The period was characterized by a sharp increase in the number of documented cases of killing and maiming of children as young as three months old, with 146 killed (109 boys, 37 girls) and 289 injured (182 boys, 107 girls). A total of 58 of the killings were attributed to ex-Séléka, 49 to anti-Balaka, and 20 to unidentified armed men. Children were caught in crossfire, hacked to death with machetes and killed or injured by bullets. For example, in January, four boys between 9 and 10 years of age were beheaded by ex-Séléka in retaliation for an attack against Muslim community members in Bangui. Between January and February, 22 children, including 9 girls, were killed during attacks by anti-Balaka against ex-Séléka and Muslim communities. In August, Muslim youths associated with ex-Séléka attacked the Saint Joseph Cathedral in Bambari, killing 20 children and injuring 4.

Rape and other forms of sexual violence against children continue to be of great concern. The rape of 405 girls and 1 boy, between the ages of 7 and 17, were documented throughout the country; 205 by ex-Séléka, 187 by anti-Balaka, 12 by unidentified persons and 2 by the national police. Sexual violence incidents remained largely underreported. Also of concern is the fact that the leadership of both anti-Balaka and ex-Séléka did not take action against identified alleged perpetrators of rape against children when cases were reported to them.

The United Nations interviewed several boys following allegations of repeated acts of sexual violence by elements of “Operation Sangaris” in and around the M’Poko camp for displaced persons in Bangui between December 2013 and May 2014. Their national authorities have opened an investigation that is ongoing. The victims have been provided with necessary assistance by the United Nations and local partners. It is of the utmost importance that the perpetrators be held responsible.

Both anti-Balaka and ex-Séléka looted schools and hospitals and threatened health personnel, students and teachers. The United Nations documented nine attacks on schools, including four attributed to anti-Balaka, four to ex-Séléka.

Five other schools were temporarily used by the International Support Mission to the Central African Republic and “Operation Sangaris” and later vacated. The United Nations also verified nine attacks against hospitals. In addition, many schools and hospitals that were looted, destroyed or damaged in 2013 remained closed.

Thirty-four abductions of children (22 boys, 12 girls), some as young as 3 years of age, were verified, marking a decrease compared with 2013, in particular because of the decline of LRA attacks in the Central African Republic. Sixteen abductions were attributed to anti-Balaka, eight to LRA and two to ex-Séléka. In some cases, children were specifically targeted for ransom or as retaliation against communities. A total of 80 incidents of denial of humanitarian access were verified in Bangui and the east of the country, including 42 attributed to anti-Balaka, 18 to ex-Séléka, and 20 to unidentified armed men. Incidents included shooting and stone-throwing at vehicles, carjacking, attacks on staff at their residences and looting of offices.

The United Nations engaged with the anti-Balaka and ex-Séléka leadership to identify and separate children associated with those groups. Efforts resulted in the separation of 2,807 children (2,161 boys, 646 girls) between the ages of 8 and 17, including 2,347 from anti-Balaka and 446 from ex-Séléka.

Dialogue was also initiated with the military chains of command of two ex-Séléka factions: the Rassemblement patriotique pour le renouveau de Centafrique (RPRC) and Union pour la paixen la Centrafrique (UPC), resulting in the issuance of command orders by the military leadership of both factions to end the recruitment and use of children. In follow-up to this development, UNICEF provided training to over 400 combatants and officers from both factions. In addition, sensitization workshops were organized for anti-Balaka in Bangui and other south-eastern localities.

The collapse of the judicial system and other core functions of the State resulted in widespread impunity allowing grave violations against children to be committed on a large scale. To address the situation, MINUSCA was mandated under Security Council resolution 2149 (2014) to assist the transitional authorities to arrest and bring to justice those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Ministry of Justice and MINUSCA signed a memorandum of understanding establishing urgent temporary measures to restore law and order and fight impunity. In this context, two anti-Balaka members who allegedly raped a 14-year-old girl in November in Bangui were arrested by MINUSCA police and handed over to the national gendarmerie for investigation. As at April 2015, the two individuals were awaiting trial.

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

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.