Violence against children is on the rise in the Central African Republic — including two beheadings —in the fighting that has escalated in the capital city since last month, according to a UNICEF report out this week.
“We are witnessing unprecedented levels of violence against children. More and more children are being recruited into armed groups, and they are also being directly targeted in atrocious revenge attacks,” a UNICEF representative in the country said.
UNICEF says it has verified the killings of 16 children, and injuries to 60 others, resulting from the recent outbreak of violence in the Central African Republic, where predominantly Muslim rebels have been battling Christian vigilante groups since the rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in March. Nearly half the population of the capital city Bangui — some 370,000 people — has been displaced by the chaos and, according to the UN, the number of child soldiers in the country has doubled to 6,000 as the Central African Republic teeters on the brink of genocide, CNN reports.
“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,” a UNICEF representative said.