Central African Republic
According to the U.S. State Department, the Central African Army, government-supported anti-balaka militias, and Seleka rebels that seized control of the country’s government in 2013 reportedly recruited and used child soldiers. In 2012, there were reports that the Central African Army recruited and used children to man checkpoints and identify rebel hideouts. The Central African Army also reportedly provided in-kind support – including machetes – to anti-balaka village self-defense units which were known to recruit and use child soldiers. UNICEF estimated at the time that children comprised one-third of these self-defense groups.
In March 2013, the Seleka coalition took control of the government. Armed groups aligned with the coalition were known to recruit and use child soldiers – including the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP), the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR), and the Democratic Front of the Central African Republic (FDPC). According to UN estimates, Seleka-aligned armed groups and anti-balaka units recruited as many as 10,000 child soldiers by 2014. The Central African Republic was removed from the CSPA list in 2015 following the dissolution of the Seleka government, after which point the U.S. State Department did not report any allegations of child soldier use or recruitment by its successor government or by any government-backed groups.
In the two years that the Central African Republic was on the CSPA list, it demobilized more than 2,500 child soldiers and started drafting a national action plan against trafficking, but it did not report any efforts to establish a policy against child soldiering or to raise awareness about national laws against the use of children in armed forces. The government also did not directly provide reintegration programs for child soldiers, which left children susceptible to re-recruitment.
For more information, see the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report and Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. More information on the situation in CAR can also be found in the U.N. Secretary-General’s annual report on Children and Armed Conflict and country-specific report on CAR.