The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (A/68/878–S/2014/339) issued on 15 May 2014.
The deployment of Chadian troops to the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) prompted renewed momentum to accelerate the implementation of the action plan signed in June 2011 to end and prevent under-age recruitment in the Armée nationale tchadienne. My Special Representative, jointly with UNICEF, visited Chad in May 2013. On that occasion, the Chadian authorities renewed their commitment to engage constructively with the United Nations to expedite the implementation of the action plan, appointed a high-level focal point in that regard and adopted a road map detailing 10 specific and time-bound measures to be implemented in the short and long term to achieve compliance with the action plan.
Since then, the Government of Chad, in cooperation with the United Nations and other partners, has taken significant steps to fulfil its obligations. A central child protection unit in the Ministry of Defence and one in each of the eight “defence and security zones” were established to coordinate the monitoring and protection of children’s rights and to implement awareness-raising activities. Between August and October 2013, the Government and the United Nations jointly conducted screening and age verification of approximately 3,800 troops of the armée nationale tchadienne in all eight zones. Age verification standards had been previously developed during a workshop organized by the United Nations in July. In addition, between August and September 2013, a training-the-trainers programme on child protection was attended by 346 members of the armée nationale tchadienne. A child protection training module to be integrated in the curricula of the police and gendarmerie and of the senior military school in N’Djamena was under development at the time of reporting.
Since July 2013, troops of the armée nationale tchadienne to be deployed in Mali started to receive predeployment training on child protection and international humanitarian law, including 864 troops of the armée nationale tchadienne attending child protection training at the Loumia training centre in December. The United Nations stands ready to support further training initiatives for the troops, including the systematic training of troops for international peacekeeping operations.
In October 2013, a presidential directive was adopted to confirm 18 years as the minimum age for recruitment into the armed and security forces. It also established age verification procedures and instructed that “penal and disciplinary sanctions” would be taken against those violating the orders. The directive was disseminated among the commanders of all eight “defence and security zones”, including in the context of several training and verification missions. On 4 February 2014, the recruitment and use of children was explicitly criminalized through the adoption of a presidential decree. I encourage the National Assembly to expedite the consideration and adoption of the Child Protection Code, which will further strengthen the protection of children in Chad. Finally, following the adoption in May 2013 of the Law on the Organization of the Civil Registry, the United Nations, in collaboration with the Government, undertook the late registration of 100,000 births in N’Djamena and is developing a two-year strategy for capacity-building in civil registration.
While the efforts made by the Government to meet all obligations under the action plan resulted in significant progress, a number of challenges remained to ensure sustainability and the effective prevention of violations against children. Chad should pursue comprehensive and thorough screening and training of its armed and security forces to continue to prevent the presence of children, including in the light of Chad’s growing involvement in peacekeeping operations. While no new cases of recruitment of children were documented by the United Nations in 2013 and no children were found during the joint screening exercises, interviews confirmed that soldiers had been integrated in the past into the armée nationale tchadienne from armed groups while still under the age of 18. Moreover, the strengthening of operating procedures, such as those for age verification, which ensure the accountability of perpetrators, and free and accessible birth registration, should remain a priority for the Chadian authorities.
The security situation in neighbouring countries continued to affect children in Chad. At the time of reporting, the crisis in the Central African Republic, border porosity and weak State authority in the country had resulted in the inflow of approximately 80,000 refugees, including unaccompanied children into Chad. In May 2013, the United Nations received allegations of cross-border recruitment of Chadian children by the Séléka. A significant number of children associated with the ex-Séléka were reportedly crossing the border into the Central African Republic in Tissi area. In June, five Chadian children separated from the Séléka were re-recruited from a transit centre in Bangui, where they awaited repatriation to Chad and family reunification. In addition, a significant influx of refugees from Darfur, the Sudan, into areas contaminated with explosive remnants of war in Chad was recorded. On 28 June and 5 July, eight refugee children from Darfur, between 8 and 14 years of age, were killed (two boys) or maimed (six girls) in two incidents involving explosive remnants of war in Amboukoun, Tissi. I encourage the Chadian authorities to continue to work closely with the United Nations to provide refugee children with adequate protection and care.