By Sarah Namulondo
UNICEF has today said that more than 300,000 children in the Central African Republic (CAR) have been affected by the violence in CAR and its consequences.
Credible reports were received by the UN that rebel groups and pro-government militias are increasingly recruiting and involving children in armed conflict in the CAR.
Although it is impossible to give a precise figure, reports indicate that this number will rise because of the recent and escalating conflict because even before the conflict erupted in December 2012, about 2,500 children both girls and boys were associated with multiple armed groups, including self defence groups, in CAR.
Souleymane Diabate, UNICEF Representative for CAR informed the media that according to their reliable sources children are newly being recruited among rebel ranks.
UNICEF responded to the reports by working with a group of partners on ground to monitor, verify, and respond to grave violations of child rights, including recruitment into armed groups.
Diabate noted that the children who are at greater risk are those who have lost their homes, are separated from their families or were formerly associated with armed groups.
He warned guardians of children to watch out for their children because a number of rebel groups and various pro-government militias have become more active in recent weeks in the capital city of Bangui and across the country in recruiting children.
Diabate said UNICEF has called for the immediate stop of child recruitment by all armed groups in the CAR and urges all parties to protect children against the harmful impact and involvement in armed conflict in the country.