United Nation’s Children Fund has revealed a report according to which more than 2000 children, in the Central African Republic, have been hired by different military rebel groups since last month. The takeover of the capital Bangui has given rise to this audacity among the military groups. Only three weeks after the rebels were able to throw the president over and capture the capital, children were spotted roaming the streets in militia uniforms. Some of them have been hired in high ranks of Seleka fighters. There can be nothing more horrific than this growing tendency of using mere kids and teens for armed violence.
The spokeswoman for UNICEF, Marixie Mercado, said that they have not reached an exact number regarding the number of children that have been recruited by the militia groups but it is definitely well over 2000. The geographic scope has increased ever since the capture of the capital and that has given the rebel group more chance to recruit children. The young teenagers and pre-teens are being used as their cooks, spies, porters and messengers. They are also being handed weapons for fighting in the collisions between armed rebel groups. The ruthless rebels are using the kids to form the frontline so they can save themselves from counter attacks.
Though UNICEF has found concrete evidence of the use of children in the fights, the Seleka chiefs continue to stick to their prior denials of using them. UNICEF has taken its strong stance against the use of child labor in military battles or military purposes. They have declared that using children like this is totally against the international laws against child labor. Christopher Gazam Betty, the information minister of CAR, at present, has clearly denied the allegations saying that the data is wrong and only about 40 children are still associated with the militia. He has also said that the UNICEF will eventually save the children who are still a part of militia, so there is no cause of worry.
The child soldiers have been spotted by Associate Press Reporter to be travelling on foot or patrol cars. Heavily armed, older militia officials always accompany them. They were also involved in the battles that occurred in the last week of March in Bangui. They fought with the troops and engaged in severe violence. Only few of the direct troops survived to tell their experience. Some paratroopers have regretted shooting at kids but they have told the media that they had no idea that kids were being used by the militia and couldn’t distinguish them from other combatants. The U.N has reported that children as young as 10 years old have been used as sexual slaves by the militia. UNICEF is planning to reunite some of the kids with their families and placing the home wrecked ones with foster cares. They will need the help of expert counselors to get over the traumatic experience of a battle.