10,000 child soldiers still fighting alongside armed groups in protracted civil war

In the Central African Republic (CAR), despite a peace agreement, about 10,000 children are still embroiled in the civil war, actively fighting alongside armed groups, serving as spies, messengers, or even sex slaves, according to the government.
More than a decade after civil war broke out, thousands of children have been recruited to participate in the violent conflict that has resulted in thousands of deaths and the displacement of over a million people. While 15,000 children have escaped from rebel forces, according to Minister for Family and Gender, Marthe Kirima, many are traumatized and find it difficult to return to normal life. The mineral-rich but impoverished nation has been embroiled in a conflict since 2013, when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power and forced then-President Francois Bozize from office. Mostly Christian militias fought back, also targeting civilians.
The recruitment of children into armed groups continues to be a significant concern in the CAR, as their lives and well-being are put at significant risk. The United Nations, which has a peacekeeping mission in the country, is actively working to prevent children from joining armed groups and make it easier for those released to reintegrate into society. It has created training programs for them to become mechanics, masons, carpenters or take up other professions. Despite their traumatic past, some former child soldiers have taken on the role of peace ambassadors to share their harrowing experiences, highlighting the devastating impact of their involvement in armed conflicts. Local civil society groups and international organizations are urging the CAR government to expedite the peace process, as they argue that the swift end to the conflict is the best safeguard for the well-being of child soldiers.

About Geraldine Boechat 2707 Articles
Senior Editor for Medafrica Times and former journalist for Swiss National Television. former NGO team leader in Burundi and Somalia