Child Soldiers International Annual Report 2016-17
Key events and progress over the financial year
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
Central African Republic (CAR) has spiralled into increasing violence in the last year, with up to two-thirds of the country controlled by armed groups.
Thousands of children have been recruited by these groups – often with the support of their families or communities. Demobilising these children is problematic, since the armed groups who recruited them usually belong to the same communities.
Following our assessment in the capital Bangui in May 2016, we published our report, Des Milliers de vies à réparer (Thousands of lives to repair) reviewing the problem of child recruitment in CAR, and presenting our recommendations on how to prevent this abuse to the government, armed groups, the UN and the international community.
We met the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Social Affairs, to advise on policy measures and practical actions which can be put in place to better protect children from recruitment, including advice on the steps needed to ratify the child soldier treaty. We were delighted to see CAR become the 167th country to ratify the treaty in September 2017.
We continue to support the government in the finalisation of its Child Protection Code, which should effectively criminalise the recruitment of all children under the age of 18. This will be one of the next steps for the government in implementing their obligations under the treaty.
In the year ahead we will be promoting the adoption of this Child Protection Code, and supporting our prevention initiative by delivering a workshop for 30 government officials from across the country on procedural measures and practical steps to prevent child recruitment.
At the same time, we have designed a community-led programme to tackle the problem at its source.
Working closely with our Central African partner, Enfants sans Frontières, we have developed context-specific prevention booklets and illustrated training resources for community leaders, designed to build resistance to the recruitment - and rerecruitment - of children by armed groups operating in these communities.
In the year ahead we will disseminate the booklets through our workshops for a network of 40 child protection actors from across the country. We will work with these organisations to identify at-risk communities, and train them on how to use our booklets and resources. Our Congolese partner, PAMI joins us in this initiative, to present perspectives and practical experience from our community programmes in DR Congo.