United Nations – UNICEF says more than 2,000 boys and girls have been recruited by armed forces in the Central African Republic since the country’s latest wave of violence began in December.
UNICEF, in a report on Friday, said it had clear evidence of continuing recruitment of children, and warned that such a practice constituted a “grave” violation of international law.
“Recruiting children is both morally unacceptable and prohibited under international law.
“We have called on the new leadership in the country to ensure that all children associated with armed groups are released immediately and protected from further violations,” UNICEF’s Representative in the Central African Republic Souleymane Diabate said.
Diabate said that the new authorities in the capital, Bangui, had shown their intention to identify and release children among the ranks of armed groups.
He, however, stressed that UNICEF was committed to working with them to ensure that new recruitment stopped immediately and that child soldiers were returned to their families.
Diabate said that the current tension, insecurity and a lack of access by humanitarian workers to large parts of the country, meant that children were at greater risk than ever.
Since December 2012, not less than1.2 million people have been cut off from essential services, and human rights violations have continued even after the Seleka rebel coalition seized power on March 24, the UN agency said.
In addition, more than 37,000 people had fled the country in the past four months due to the violence.
Most displaced persons have found asylum in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), while others have gone to Chad and Cameroun. (NAN)