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The UN calls for measures to prevent “serious violations” against children in the CAR conflict

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The special representative of the UN General Secretariat for children and armed conflicts, Virginia Gamba, asked this Wednesday before the United Nations Security Council to take measures to prevent “serious violations” against children in the current conflict in the Central African Republic. (RCA), which has been especially affected by recruitment by different armed groups. “The sad reality is that children in the Central African Republic continue to be affected by the impact of armed conflict. We have to build on previous achievements but, more importantly, we have to implement concrete child protection measures (… .) It is essential that all parties commit to the United Nations, including in a prevention plan to avoid serious violations against children, and that the Government adopt and apply a protocol for the handover of children formerly associated with the conflict to civilian agents,” Gamba has declared. According to a report from the organization, between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2023, 1,432 serious violations were verified against more than 1,000 children, which represents 14 percent less than the previous period, although it is also highlighted that many facts have not been able to be verified due to restrictions on certain conflict areas. Among all these violations, the recruitment of minors is the most common, followed by kidnappings and sexual violence. Around 20 percent of child rights violations were committed by forces associated with the Government. Children in the country have been especially vulnerable to attacks against communities due to their alleged support for different political factions, and in which explosives have often been used “indiscriminately”, although attacks against schools and hospitals have been reduced by a 50 percent after a UN campaign. “The conflict in CAR has continued to be terrible for children, with 155 dead and maimed (…) especially in the provinces of Nana-Mambéré, Mambéré-Kadéi, Lim-Pendé and Ouham-Pendé. Throughout the period covered by the report, the humanitarian situation continued to deteriorate, resulting in an increase in the number of internally displaced people in need of humanitarian assistance,” the statement said. Likewise, the UN has reported on the obstruction of the delivery of humanitarian aid due to clashes and military operations, recording up to 116 incidents of this type in the period covered by the report. “I call on the parties to the conflict to fulfill their obligations under international law, prioritize the protection of children and take meaningful measures to end and prevent serious violations, not only to safeguard the future of Central African children, but also to contribute to the restoration of peace and stability in a country that has long been marked by conflict,” added Gamba. UNITED NATIONS RECOGNIZES PROGRESS The report presented by Gamba also highlights that the strengthening of peace agreements, which have resulted in the dissolution of up to six armed groups, has allowed the release and reintegration of many children, for whom there are no reintegration programs long-term socioeconomic, educational and vocational needs, both due to the ongoing conflict and the lack of financial capacity to carry them out. He has also highlighted the Government’s strategy to prevent violations against children, supported by the organization itself. In fact, the UN and the authorities are working to create a vocational training center in the province of Ouaka and that “should be repeated in other areas.” In this sense, Gamba has called on the international community to strengthen its support for reintegration, education and vocational training programs. The Central African Republic is going through years of political instability and a fragile reconciliation process. At the end of July, the country held a constitutional referendum called by the president, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, and criticized by the opposition, which opted for a boycott, after denouncing fraud in the last elections, marked by violence following an offensive by the coalition. rebel Patriots for Change Coalition (CPC) after the exclusion from the presidential candidacy of former president François Bozizé (2003-2013), now in exile and sentenced to life imprisonment ‘in absentia’ for his alleged participation in a plan to prevent the celebration of the 2020 elections. Given the situation, the Central African president asked Russia for help to contain the offensive of the CPC – in which some signatories of the 2014 peace agreement are integrated -, which came to approach the surrounding areas. from Bangui. Moscow sent advisors and mercenaries from the Wagner Group to support the Central African forces, also supported by Rwandan special forces.



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