UNICEF calls for immediate cessation of recruitment of children by armed groups in the Central African RepublicListen /
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is calling for the immediate cessation of child recruitment by all armed groups in the Central African Republic.
UNICEF's Spokesperson in Geneva Marixie Mercado says the agency is urging all parties to protect children against the harmful impact of, and their involvement in, armed conflict in the country.
She says there are credible reports that rebel groups and pro-government militias were increasingly recruiting and involving children in armed conflict in the Central African Republic.
“Even before conflict erupted in December 2012, about 2,500 children – both girls and boys – were associated with multiple armed groups in the Central African Republic. It is impossible to give a precise figure, reports indicated that this number would rise because of the recent and escalating conflict. UNICEF is deeply concerned about the harmful impact of conflict on children and condemned the involvement of boys and girls below the age of 18 who may be forced to fight, carry supplies, perform other support roles and be abused as sex slaves by armed groups.”
Spokesperson Marixie Mercado says UNICEF is working with partners to monitor, verify, and respond to grave violations of child rights, including recruitment into armed groups.
She adds that those at greater risk were children who had lost their homes, were separated from their families or were formerly associated with armed groups.
Donn Bobb, United Nations.