The United Nation's children agency has called on rebels and pro-government groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) to stop recruiting children to fight in the country's conflict that has seen armed opposition groups seize key towns.
"Reliable sources have informed us that children are newly being recruited among their ranks," Souleymane Diabate, a UNICEF spokesperson in CAR, said in a statement on Friday.
UNICEF condemned the involvement of boys and girls "who may be forced to fight, carry supplies, perform other support roles and be abused as sex slaves by armed groups".
It said that even before the current conflict erupted last month, about 2,500 children were associated with multiple armed groups, including self-defence groups, in CAR.
1. Schools of zealotry who train orphans to make orphans evermore...
From the article:
More than 300,000 children have been affected by the violence in the country and its consequences, including through recruitment, family separation, sexual violence, forced displacement and having no or limited access to education and health facilities, it said.
"We are very concerned about children that might have possibly been displaced and separated from parents, but also we are concerned about children that are living on the streets and those that have been associated with those armed groups," Strother added.
Dar Williams has written an impassioned song about this horror of war, refugee camps, and children: I Am the One Who Will Remember Everything.
So where are we now, he must be five or six,
Just running around, hungry kids, sharpened sticks.
And he will grow with pain and fear and jealousy,
Taken in by schools of zealotry,
Who train orphans to make orphans evermore.
I am the one who will remember everything.
What will be the impact of U.N. concern? Do the partisan factions act, or even listen, when asked to stop recruiting children? What will be remembered of our age and our conflicts? Everything.