London, 13 May 2013 - The Chadian government should take significant and meaningful steps to fully implement a 2011 Action Plan to end the recruitment of children before Chad is invited to contribute troops to the future UN peacekeeping force in Mali.

The risk of underage recruitment in Chad’s armed forces continues, and approximately 30 children were officially enlisted in 2012. In the context of the potential participation of Chadian troops to MINUSMA – the future UN peacekeeping operation for Mali, approved last month by the UN Security Council –an immediate and thorough UN-led screening of the Chadian armed forces (Armée nationale tchadienne/ANT) is required to ensure full adherence to the UN minimum age policy to exclude under-18s from its peacekeeping operations.

In a briefing released today, as the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict arrives in Chad for talks with the government and the UN Country Team on this matter, Child Soldiers International provides a comprehensive assessment of the status of implementation of the June 2011 Action Plan (Child Soldiers International’s Briefing on the status of implementation of the June 2011 Action Plan on children associated with armed forces and groups in Chad).

The Briefing, which was sent to the Chadian authorities and UN Headquarters a month ago to inform these talks, demonstrates that two years after the adoption of the Action Plan, effective measures to prevent underage recruitment are not yet in place.

On the basis of an assessment of the main commitments in the Action Plan, the briefing presents a series of recommendations to the government to adopt concrete measures to strengthen recruitment procedures in the ANT, increase monitoring and improve accountability. The briefing also proposes recommendations to the UN Country Team, which requires additional capacity if it is to offer technical support and expertise to the government.
The ANT is currently listed in the UN Secretary-General’s reports on children and armed conflict as a party that recruits and uses children. According to the terms of the Action Plan signed with the UN, Chad will only be removed from this list upon verification by the UN that the recruitment and use of children by the ANT have completely ceased, and all children have been released.

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In November 2012, Child Soldiers International conducted a mission to N’Djamena and met with government and UN authorities responsible for implementing the Action Plan in order to understand the reasons why so many under-18s had been enlisted in the 2012 military recruitment campaign.

The organisation’s assessment, detailed in the briefing, is that a range of factors contributed to the unlawful enlistment of children in 2012: most candidates did not have birth certificates or other proof of age; recruiting agents had not received any child protection training and age verification methods used were flawed; finally, military instructions prohibiting the recruitment of minors were not disseminated prior to the recruitment campaign. Furthermore, the 11,000 recruitment quota was difficult to meet for the narrow age group targeted (18-20 year-olds) and may have put pressure on recruiters to enroll individuals without thorough age verification measures.

Actions taken for the demobilisation, temporary care and reunification of the children released also fell far short of the commitments made in the Action Plan. The Chadian military conducted age verification of newly recruited troops without the assistance of the UN and other experts and simply sent the identified children home rather than entrust them to child protection actors. Those eventually handed over to the Ministry of Social Affairs, were kept for weeks in an N’Djamena kindergarten without appropriate or sufficient food, physical comfort, medical and social assistance or contact with their families outside the capital.

Read the full Briefing on the status of implementation of the June 2011 Action Plan on children associated with armed forces and groups in Chad