Special Representative Zerrougui warns of re-recruitment of children in the Central African Republic

New York, 21 January 2013 – The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Leila Zerrougui is disturbed by recent reports of child recruitment by armed groups which form part of the Seleka rebel alliance, including the Convention des patriotes pour la justice et la paix (CPJP) and the Union des forces démocratiques pour le rassemblement (UFDR), in Bria, Hautte-Kotto prefecture.

In her briefing to the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict last Friday, she welcomed the recent peace agreements signed between the Government, the Seleka coalition, politico-military groups and opposition parties in Libreville, but alerted the United Nations body of the ongoing recruitment and use of children.

“The reports of child recruitment are a flagrant violation of commitments made by the CPJP and UFDR and must stop now,” Ms. Zerrougui said. The CPJP signed in November 2011 an action plan to end the recruitment and use of children with the United Nations, in line with Security Council Resolution 1612 (2005). For its part, the UFDR had committed to releasing children in its ranks to the United Nations in 2007 and 2011.

These reports follow a separate breach of the CPJP Action Plan, when the armed group refused to release two girls in their ranks in an incident in Aigbando on 7 December 2012.

Ms. Zerrougui expressed her deep disappointment at the persistent recurrence of grave violations against children in the Central African Republic. “The same actors have been violating child rights with impunity for too long. We will continue to monitor the situation and if no progress is made, we will engage the Security Council on this matter.”

The Special Representative also expressed her concern regarding the Central African Government’s commitment to protect children. In an incident on 24 December 2012, elements of the Central African security forces broke into a reception centre for children in the capital, Bangui, and detained 64 former child soldiers alleging that they were “rebels”. The children were subsequently released and placed in a transit centre; without protection, their security continues to be in jeopardy. Separately, the Government has reportedly called on youth in Bangui to mobilise and arm themselves to counter the armed groups alongside militias.

“These developments are unacceptable,” Ms. Zerrougui stated. “Child recruitment is a grave violation. Children separated from armed forces and groups are victims, not perpetrators, and have to be treated as such. Going forward, I urge the Government to take its responsibility to protect children seriously, and to refrain from inciting violence.”

For further information, please contact:
Muriel Gschwend
Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
+1 917 367 35 62
+1 347 749 52 76
gschwend@un.org