The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) [official website] issued a report [press release] on Monday describing horrific attacks against children that have occurred in the Central African Republic (CAR) [BBC Backgrounder; JURIST news archive] in the last month. The UNICEF report stated that at least 16 children have been killed and 60 injured since the outbreak of extreme violence in the capital city of Bangui that began on December 5. It alleges that at least two children were beheaded and one was mutilated, and that children are increasingly being recruited to join armed forces. UNICEF Representative in the CAR Souleymane Diabate made a statement on behalf of the organization, urging immediate action: "Targeted attacks against children are a violation of international humanitarian and human rights law and must stop immediately. Concrete action is needed now to prevent violence against children." The report included four potential measures that UNICEF recommends armed forces in the country take to increase protection for children in the CAR going forward.
The UNICEF report highlights a declining situation in the CAR and in particular around the city of Bangui. Violence in 2013 resulted in the displacement of approximately 785,000 people in the country and over the past three weeks almost half of the population of Bangui was displaced to sites across the capital. Children have suffered throughout the conflict and last week UNICEF called for urgent action [UNICEF report] to prevent child death and suffering due to malnutrition in the CAR. The UN is working to mitigate violence in the CAR and peacekeepers were deployed [JURIST report] earlier this month, following investigations from several UN rights agencies. During the initial stages of the conflict, UNICEF reported the recruitment of child soldiers [JURIST report] by both pro-government and rebel forces.