Children are main victims of violence in Chad, Ban says in new report
Children continue to be the primary victims of the conflict in Chad, whether they are recruited as soldiers, killed or hurt by landmines or denied humanitarian access, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes in a report made public today.
“The political, military and security situation remains highly volatile,” he said, due to the ongoing violence between Chadian armed forces and rebel groups, the presence of foreign rebels in the country’s east, cross-border raids by allied militiamen known as the Janjaweed and continuing tensions, mainly between Arab and non-Arab communities. As a result, children are made to suffer.
“All parties to the conflict reportedly continue to use and recruit children,” the Secretary-General said, adding that the problem is exacerbated by the fact that only 10 per cent of child births are registered in Chad.
Further, he stated that there are “cultural issues related to the concepts of boyhood and manhood” which aggravate the issue.
While indiscriminate killings in eastern Chad are relatively rare, unexploded ordnance and landmines are cause for concern, the report said. Nearly 50 children died as a result of the devices last year, with more than double that number being maimed.
Girls are the main victims of rape and other types of sexual violence, which are “common” in Chad, Mr. Ban wrote. “Both armed groups and community members are being reported as perpetrators of such violations,” with perpetrators acting in a climate of near impunity and the Government being unable or unwilling to protect children from such acts.
The report also highlighted the attacks on schools and abductions of children by armed groups.
It characterized the start of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration activities in the landlocked Central African nation are a “very positive step in addressing violations of child rights.”
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Chadian Government entered an agreement on 9 May to guarantee the release and reintegration of all children associated with armed forces and groups.
The Secretary-General estimated that 2,500 child soldiers – out of a total of 7,000 to 10,000 – will be released over the coming months.
“Ending grave violations against children will not be possible unless significant progress is made in the political dimension,” he said, noting that outbreaks of violence earlier this year have intensified mistrust and curtailed hopes for progress.
Mr. Ban called on all parties to the Chadian conflict to immediately comply with Security Council resolutions on bringing an end to the serious child rights abuses for which they have been cited.
He also urged the Government to fully cooperate with the UN to conduct verification in detention centres and other facilities, and to criminalize the recruitment and use of child soldiers and bring those responsible for such acts to justice.
“As a matter of priority, the Chadian authorities should also increase security and protection of the civilian populations in and around refugee camps and internally displaced person sites,” the report said.
In June, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy wrapped up a visit to Chad, where she said she had received assurances from the Government that it would release all former child combatants held in detention.
However, she pointed out that there have still not been any commitments on child recruitment by non-government armed groups who “recruit a great many children.”