5 June 2018

Central African Republic: Freed CAR Child Soldiers Rejoin Rebel Groups

Photo: Marcus Bleasdale/VII for Human Rights Watch
The Imam Ishmail Nafi at the displaced persons camp in the Ecole Liberte in Bossangoa praying for those killed the previous day during the anti-balaka attack on the town. Eleven people were killed outside his house while seeking safety from the attackers.

Bangui — SCORES of children released by armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) have rejoined the rebel movements following their release.

They are among 66 child soldiers, including four girls, that had been recruited by the Muslim and Christian militant movements in the capital Bangui.

Child Soldiers International confirmed the majority of children were back in the ranks of the extremist groups.

The organisation believes a large proportion of children are kidnapped but many join voluntarily to protect themselves and their communities.

Some children join to avenge the death of a loved one while others believe armed groups are the best option of a better life in the poor country.

In the wake of the crisis, Child Soldiers International has launched to launch new initiatives helping communities, government and local organisations end the devastating practice of recruitment of minors into warfare.

Sandra Olsson, the programme manager at Child Soldiers International, said the ongoing crisis in CAR remained worryingly ignored and underfunded by the international community.

Negotiations have also stalled between government and armed groups who want to be integrated into the national armed forces or be given incentives to lay down their arms.

Olsson said the situation remained extremely volatile, with both boys and girls at serious risk of being exploited by groups on all sides of the conflict.

"The country's youngest citizens continue to suffer greatly," she said.

Armed groups control around 80 percent of CAR.

The groups are pitting Muslim and Christians against each other.

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