Use of child soldiers in Chad an ongoing problem - UN chief
(UN News Centre) The recruitment and use of children by armed forces and other armed groups in Chad persists, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in a new report, while noting that reduced tensions last year enabled many children to leave such groups.
The report to the Security Council on children and armed conflict in Chad, which covers the period from July 2008 to December 2010, also notes that children continue to be targets of sexual and gender-based violence, and that mines and other explosive remnants of war continue to expose children to danger.
Attacks on humanitarian workers in eastern Chad on many occasions adversely impacted children's access to humanitarian aid, including education and health care, according to the report.
Presenting an overview of the general security situation in Chad, Mr. Ban highlights how the insecurity in the eastern region that prevailed in 2008 and 2009 improved markedly in 2010, and the impact that had on efforts to protect children.
"Progress in the relations between Chad and the Sudan from mid-2009 onwards resulted in the thawing of political tensions. This allowed for operational military arrangements, such as the establishment of a Chad-Sudan joint border force in April 2010, which, together with the improved operational capacity of the Détachement intégré de sécurité [DIS], had a positive impact on the security situation and the protection of children," the Secretary-General says.
The DIS is an integrated security unit of the Chadian Government which the UN has been helping to train and support to ensure the protection of civilians following the departure of the UN mission in Chad and the Central African Republic ( MINURCAT).
The report takes note of efforts by the Government of Chad to address the issue of recruitment and use of children. Those efforts culminated in the holding of a regional conference to end child recruitment, as well as Chad's hosting of the first meeting of the monitoring committee to follow up on the N'Djamena Declaration, which was adopted at the conference.
In his recommendations, the Secretary-General urges Chad to issue clear orders to its military chain of command, including at the local level, prohibiting the recruitment and use of children in line with its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law, and to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of all children.
He voices deep concern over continued incidents of rape and other forms of sexual violence, including those perpetrated by members of the armed forces. He encourages the Government to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators, and to strengthen prevention and response strategies.
Mr. Ban calls on all opposition armed groups to stop using anti-personnel mines, and urges the Government to ensure that humanitarian de-mining programmes are in line with international standards.
He voices encouragement at the measures take by Chadian authorities to ensure better security and protection of civilian populations in and around refugee camps and internally displaced persons sites.
In light of the withdrawal of MINURCAT, Mr. Ban encourages the donor community to provide support to the Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting to maintain the mission's previous monitoring and reporting role.
He also urges the donor community to provide additional support to programmes by the national authorities, UN entities and non-governmental organizations working in Chad.