Central African Republic: Rebels Have Taken Over Schools

UN forces in CAR (file photo).

Bangui — THE escalating violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) is denying education to hundreds of thousands of children.

Armed groups are the main perpetrators of this violation.

The rebels have occupied no less than 26 schools.

About 1 000 schools are non-operational as a result of fighting, forcing half the country's children out of school.

The United Nations (UN) and its children's rights group agency (UNICEF) have denounced the turn of events.

"This is unacceptable," UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Denise Brown, and UNICEF representative, Fran Equiza, said.

They lamented that only a few months after returning to school following closure due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, children were once again seeing their education interrupted.

Since last December, the increase in violence has resulted in schools being forcibly shuttered, occupied or damaged in 11 out of 16 of the country's prefectures, affecting one in two children.

The envoys urged armed groups and rebel forces to protect students, teachers and humanitarian actors as well as respect schools as zones of peace and safe havens for learning.

This must be in line with their obligations under international human rights and international humanitarian law.

"Children cannot afford to have their education on hold any longer," Brown and Equiza stated.

CAR plunged into further chaos following contentious elections held at the end of 2020.

Rebel groups, which control a majority of the country, were against the holding of elections.

Thousands of people have been forced to flee the country or are internally displaced.

- CAJ News

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