Target: President Michel Djotodia
Goal: Bolster current efforts to rescue child soldiers and reintegrate them into society
Thousands of children, both boys and girls, have been forced into a life of violence by various armed groups in Central African Republic (CAR). During raids where soldiers would descend on a village, set fire to homes, and rape and murder their family members, children have been kidnapped and forced to fight or be wives to fighters. They are sometimes even forced to murder their own family members as a tactic to ensure a psychological bond between the child and their abductors. These children see their village burned, their family and friends raped, tortured, and killed, and as a result they believe they have no home to return to. Commanders enforce this belief by telling children they will be arrested or killed by government forces or civilians if they attempt to escape.
Recent fighting in CAR has caused a significant increase in the recruitment of children into armed groups. Following talks between UNICEF and Head of Transition Michel Djotodia, 41 children between the ages of 14 and 17 were released on May 27 and 28. Seven of those rescued were girls. The government has expressed and shown a commitment to aid in the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) of child soldiers, but the momentum must increase to address the intensifying violence.
Children have been forced to participate in hostilities in CAR since 2005, when they were used in both government and anti-government forces. The government agreed to the DDR process in 2007, but opposition groups have continued to use child soldiers. UNICEF is heartened by the cooperation with the government, but pressure should be maintained until children are no longer involved in armed conflict and are able to lead productive lives in society. Demand that President Djotodia do everything possible to free these children.
Dear President Michel Djotodia,
I would like to commend the efforts of you and your government to collaborate with UNICEF to safely release child soldiers and reintegrate them into families and society. The violent situation in Central African Republic is intensifying, and children are being forced to fight more every day. On May 27 and 28, the partnership between UNICEF and your government helped rescue 41 children and rehabilitate them. We cannot lose momentum in ending this violence and helping these children have promising futures.
Please continue to work with UNICEF and other NGOs to release children from the horrors of war, disarm children and the opposition, and reintegrate these children into society. With proper training and counseling, these children can build their country’s future, instead of aiding in its destruction.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: USAID