Thousands of children in the Central African Republic had been recruited and used as soldiers, killed, injured, raped or abducted, said Lizbeth Cullity, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Central African Republic and Deputy Head of the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic.
Speaking via video message at a high-level dialogue on the human rights situation in the Central African Republic at the UN Human Rights Council which concluded Friday, Ms. Cullity added that school and health facilities had been attacked and destroyed, depriving children of their rights to education and health.
According to a study on the use of children in armed conflicts, between 6,000 and 10,000 children served in the armed forces in the Central African Republic.
Leopold Ismael Samba, Permanent Representative of the Central African Republic to the United Nations said the new political authorities had been firmly engaged on three main areas: the fight against all forms of impunity by strengthening democracy and the rule of law; the promotion and protection of Human Rights; and the implementation of the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation programme and the Security Sector Reform.
Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Special Rapporteur on Children and Armed Conflict for the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, participating via videoconference from Cape Town, noted positive developments, including the adoption of the Child Protection Code, which criminalized child recruitment and use, and the trial of two anti-Balaka leaders charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Mezmursadi this sent a positive signal in respect of accountability, as armed groups accounted for 98 per cent of documented human rights abuses and international humanitarian law violations.
Brice Kévin Kakpayen, Head of Mission at Enfants Sans Frontières, participating from Bangui by teleconference, said there was a total lack of any prevention policy and difficulties in withdrawing children from the armed groups and caring for them.
He noted that only 6,000 children had been withdrawn so far, out of a total of 10,000, leaving 4,000 children still associated with the armed groups.
He recommended establishing a national policy and mechanism to prevent the recruitment of children, reminding the armed groups of their commitments to release all children, and requesting the cessation of hostilities.
In the ensuing discussion, the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the security situation in the Central African Republic was noted by several speakers, with some underlining that this made it even more important for all armed groups to urgently implement the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme.
They said that all parties should cease all acts of violence and hostility and that Central Africans only had one choice: peace. (Source: OHCHR)