Children are reporting that they are involved in militias because they are not going to school, don’t have anything to eat, or have no family to take care of them, Edouard Ndong says.
The U.N. children’s agency estimates that 3,500 to 6,000 children have been recruited into armed groups in Central African Republic. In addition to fighting and being used for sex, children serve as porters and spies.
In Boali, northwest of the embattled capital of Bangui, almost 1,000 children are part of one local militia; their numbers include more than 150 girls between 12 and 18 years old, officials report.
Child sexual abuse is reported to be rampant, says Edouard. He said he heard a doctor from Boali say health centers there were treating four cases of child rape a month.
“The militia in Boali is willing to release children if there are programs to take care of them, but humanitarian organizations [including World Vision] are struggling to find funding to establish such programs,” says Ndong, who was interviewed in Bangui. They also find it difficult to operate in many parts of the country where fighting continues, he adds. Ndong is among a group of child protection experts who are involved in meetings to address the crisis.
The Central African Republic descended into the chaos of ethnic and sectarian violence following the ousting of President François Bozizé in March 2013.
Written by James Addis
Photo © 2014 Bruno Col / World Vision
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