More than 350 child soldiers released in CAR
May 14, 2015

(Al Jazeera) – Armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) freed more than 350 child soldiers Thursday in the largest such release since the country became engulfed in sectarian violence in late 2013, the United Nations children’s agency said. Three separate ceremonies took place near the town of Bambari, as children left the ranks of both Christian and Muslim rebel groups that once united to briefly rule the country. An estimated 6,000 to 10,000 children are thought to be working as soldiers, sex slaves or hold menial jobs such as cooks and messengers for rival armed groups in the historically unstable former French colony.

 

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Yemen: Houthis Send Children Into Battle
May 12, 2015

(HRW) – The Houthi armed group in Yemen has intensified its recruitment, training, and deployment of children in violation of international law. Since September 2014, when the Houthis, also known as Ansar Allah, took control of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, they have increasingly used children as scouts, guards, runners, and fighters, with some children being wounded and killed. The Houthis and other armed groups using child soldiers in Yemen should immediately stop recruiting children, including “volunteers,” and release all children in their ranks, Human Rights Watch said.

 

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Boko Haram attacks spark education crisis in Cameroon
May 12, 2015

(IRIN) – Tens of thousands of children in northern Cameroon, including many refugees from neighbouring Nigeria, are out of school because of cross-border attacks by Boko Haram. “The government and aid agencies are grappling with a complex emergency situation,” said Middjiyawa Bakari, governor of Cameroon’s Far North Region. “Getting enough classrooms, teachers and various forms of assistance to the internally displaced children and refugees remains critical,” he said.

 

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Abuse on Repeat in South Sudan
May 12, 2015

(HRW) – In early 2014, just a month after war had broken out between South Sudan’s government and the armed opposition led by Riek Machar, the former vice president, government forces tore their way southward through Unity state, burning villages and displacing thousands of civilians into swamps and other hard-to-reach areas where over the next months they would struggle to survive. Civilians fled for days as one village after another was attacked, and many told us of sexual violence, hunger, and extensive looting by government forces and their allies.

 

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Respect Civilian Nature of Schools and Universities
May 12, 2015

(GCPEA) – States should act to deter the military use of schools and universities, said the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) in a study released today. The use of schools and universities for military purposes during conflict by armed forces and non-state armed groups endangers students and their education. GCPEA called on governments to join a “Safe Schools Declaration” that will be finalized by states at an inter-governmental conference in Oslo, Norway, on May 28-29. The Declaration will represent a political commitment to improve the protection of education during conflict, including by implementing the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict. States should follow the lead of countries that have been impacted by war, such as Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Liberia, and Palestine, which have already expressed their intention to join and support the Declaration.

 

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U.N. rep accuses Saudi-led coalition of violating international law
May 11, 2015

(CNN) – A Saudi-led coalition rained down missiles in Yemen from Friday into Saturday, an intense attack that a U.N. official called a breach of international humanitarian law. The Saudi Press Agency reported that the latest attack against Houthi rebels in Yemen — 130 airstrikes in a 24-hour period — included the targeting of schools and hospitals. The hospitals and schools that were hit functioned as weapons storage sites, coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri said in a statement.

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South Sudan: heavy fighting and reported ‘atrocities’ in northeast force UN to evacuate staff
May 11, 2015

(UN News Centre) – The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has expressed growing concern about “continuing and consistent reports” emanating from two north-eastern counties regarding a surge in kidnappings and rapes and an overall uptick in violence, which has forced the UN and other aid agencies to withdraw staff from the region. According to credible information collected by the UN Mission, numerous towns and villages in Guit and Koch counties, located in Unity state, have been reported as “burned” amid killings, abductions of males as young as 10 years of age, rape and abduction of girls and women, and the forced displacement of civilians.

 

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Why so many children are fighting in Yemen’s civil war
May 11, 2015

(Washington Post) – Abdullah Ali’s 15-year-old son disappeared from home one morning three months ago. A week later, the boy called his horrified family to say he had joined the Shiite insurgents known as Houthis — becoming one of a growing number of underage soldiers fighting in Yemen’s civil war. “He’s just a child. He’s only in the ninth grade,” Ali, 49, a civil servant who lives in the city of Taiz, said recently. “He should be at school learning, not fighting.”

 

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Rescued From Boko Haram, How Can They Reclaim Their Lives?
May 8, 2015

(NPR) – How do you help a former captive reclaim her life? That’s the question mental health professionals face as they treat more than 200 women and children freed from the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram last Saturday in Nigeria. According to reports, the majority of those rescued are children and a number of the teens and women are pregnant. The physical and mental health needs boggle the mind: basic health screening for all and maternity care for those pregnant; post-traumatic care; social and community support; rape counseling for women whether pregnant or not. The Chief of the United Nations Population Fund has said that the organization is providing health screening as well as psychological counseling for the rescued women.

 

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Public Statement by Chair of Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict
May 8, 2015

(Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict) – At its fifty-fourth meeting, on 8 May 2015, the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict agreed, in connection with the examination of the first report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in South Sudan (S/2014/884), to address the following message to all parties to the armed conflict in South Sudan, in particular the SPLA, the SPLA-IO and armed groups operating in their support such as the White Army, through a public statement by the Chair of the Working Group:

a. Strongly condemning all violations and abuses that continue to be committed against children in South Sudan by all parties to the armed conflict, reminding them of their obligations under applicable international law, and urging them to take all necessary measures to immediately end and prevent all such violations and abuses, including those involving the recruitment and use, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, abductions, attacks against schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian access as well as the military use of schools in violation of applicable international law;

 

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