In Central African Republic (CAR) we are strengthening the capacity of the government and others to end the exploitation of children by armed groups, and to enable children to return home.

Background

The use of children for military purposes in CAR has affected all parts of the country for a long time. Even before the latest conflict, virtually all armed groups and militias were known to have recruited and used children, even though some had made commitments to the UN not to do so. It can be particularly difficult to secure the release and reintegration of children involved in community-based militia, since their families and their former commanders all share the same community background.

The issue

Since CAR’s current conflict started in 2012, the United Nations says more than 14,000 child soldiers have been recruited by Anti-Balaka and Séléka forces and several other disparate armed groups across the country.

Armed groups in the mainly Muslim “Séléka” coalition and predominantly Christian militias called “Anti-Balaka” have both used children as young as eight as combatants, guards, human shields, porters, messengers, spies, cooks, and/or for sexual purposes.

Our impact

Our 2016 report about the use of children in CAR’s conflict has been used by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva and the UN Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict in New York to convey our concerns and recommendations to the CAR government and others working on the ground. This will support the work of our partner, Enfants Sans Frontières (ESF), and others, as they try to protect the rights of children.

We have worked with the government to support their September 2017 ratification of the OPAC treaty.

Working closely with UNICEF, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in CAR (MINUSCA), our national partner ESF, and local child protection organisations, we published new resources in May 2018, to help strengthen government and community efforts to prevent further recruitment of children into armed groups.   

These training and awareness-raising materials are tailored to this context and provide constructive, accessible advice for child protection organisations and communities. 

Our illustrated booklets (published in French and Sango) are providing essential information to the child protection organisations who are working in conflict-affected communities in the country. The booklets provide accessible notes on the impact of armed conflict on children; laws which prohibit child recruitment; practical measures to prevent child recruitment; and the role of communities in protecting children from recruitment.

Alongside this, we developed our ‘boîte à images’ flip-book as a resource for community volunteer networks who offer education on child protection to communities across the country. The flip-book is designed as a visual tool, to support their training sessions, which are educating families on the harmful effects of child recruitment for both children and their communities.

We launched and disseminated these resources to local and national child protection organisations at a workshop in the capital Bangui in May 2018, co-hosted with ESF and the Ministry of the Promotion of Women, the Family and Child Protection.

What we’ll do next

Together with Enfants sans Frontières, we have also also began assessing the feasibility and need for developing prevention projects with children, such as literacy classes or youth clubs in the areas where the materials will be used. During the coming year, we will support both the testing of these activities and the ongoing training activities of our network of child protection actors.

Photo © Child Soldiers International