A regional conference to end recruitment and use of children in armed forces and groups in Central Africa
Regional Conference -"Ending recruitment and use of children in Armed forces and groups: contributing to peace, justice and development"
The main participating countries at the conference are: Chad, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Sudan, Nigeria and Niger.
There will also be testimonies from former child soldiers from Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The conference will conclude with the N’Djamena Declaration.
Manipulation, abuse and exploitation of children by armed groups and networks has been reported in all of these countries. This situation is further aggravated by poverty.
UN Security Council Resolutions 1612 and 1882 call for an end to the recruitment and use of children in armed forces and groups.
The conflict in Darfur region of Sudan and unrest in the other countries have also resulted in the proliferation of small arms, light weapons, organized crime and unexploded ordnances.
Nigeria periodically faces sectarian violence with serious consequences on children’s rights.
The influx of refugees from neighbouring countries and movements of people uprooted due to conflict also lead to serious child protection challenges.
All these countries share vast and porous borders that are difficult to monitor and conducive to forced or negotiated recruitment, exploitation and abuse of vulnerable children.
A lack of educational and livelihood opportunities increases the risks for children in border areas.
The Conference follows the announcement on 25 May 2010 of a two year campaign calling for the universal ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on protection for children in armed conflict.
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