Saturday, May 11, 2013

Africa: UN agency ‘condemns in strongest possible terms’ killing of teen linked to rebels

UN - In the village of Mélé, Central African Republic, only half of the children in the region go to school because of conflict. Photo: UNICEF/Pierre Holtz

10 May 2013 – The United Nations Children’s Fund today condemned in the strongest possible terms the re-recruitment and the killing of a 17-year-old boy in the Central African Republic (CAR) associated with the Séléka rebel coalition and called for the release of all children linked to the group.

“All children have the right to be protected from violence,” Marixie Mercado, spokesperson for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) told journalists in Geneva.

“The recruitment and use of children in armed conflict is one of the six grave children’s rights violations according to Security Council Resolution 1612 and those who commit such crimes against children must be held accountable,” she added.

According to information provided, a mob stoned to death the boy and a 19-year-old as they were trying to steal a vehicle in a neighbourhood of the capital city, Bangui. The two were acting on orders from a Séléka officer known as “The Colonel”, who escaped from the mob.

In a news release, UNICEF representative in CAR, Souleymane Diabaté, expressed sympathy to the families of the two young people and urged action against the groups linked to underage recruitment.

“We call for urgent efforts to protect children affected by conflict, request the immediate release of all children associated with armed groups. Action must be taken against those who are recruiting and using children to commit crimes,” Mr. Diabaté stressed.

In Geneva, Ms. Mercado confirmed the 17 and the 19-year-old had been demobilized from the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) rebel movement, and part of a group of 64 children and youths moved to Bangui when the Séléka launched an offensive in the country in December 2012.

“Many were placed with foster families and some were re-recruited after the Séléka took over the capital in March,” Ms. Mercado said.

Half of the population of the CAR - approximately 2.3 million - are directly or indirectly affected by the insecurity and the conflict, UNICEF today said, with most schools closed, health and nutrition centres looted and damaged, and water unsafe.

“Right now, for example, there was a measles outbreak in Bangui, in a context where public health services were not strong to begin with the risks to children were enormous,” Ms. Mercado noted.

“UNICEF called upon all authorities to establish law, peace and order as quickly as possible to protect civilians, especially women and children. They also called upon the authorities to protect humanitarian workers, ensure they could reach populations in need and that their supplies were not looted,” she underscored.

Despite the prevailing insecurity, there were 809 national and international humanitarian workers in CAR, mostly concentrated in the capital Bangui, according to the Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).