Armed groups seize schools in CAR

2015-09-10 22:08
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

London - Armed groups have been attacking schools in the Central African Republic and using them as bases amid persistent violence in the landlocked nation, a charity network said on Thursday.

In one incident when an armed group attacked peacekeeping troops near a Bangui high school, many students were "allegedly used as human shields" and 80 children were later given medical treatment, according to Watchlist, a New York-based network of charities trying to end violations against children in conflict.

Thousands of Central Africans have died and more than 800 000 remain displaced following two years of violence that erupted after mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the majority Christian country in 2013.

Both ex-Seleka rebels and their opponents, anti-Balaka militias, are responsible for attacks on schools, and both are using schools as bases, looting supplies and threatening students and teachers, Watchlist said in its report.

"Armed groups and international peacekeeping forces should do more to protect children's right to education," said Janine Morna, a Watchlist research officer.

Troops from the African Union and France and even United Nations missions have set up temporary military bases in schools, according to cases documented by Watchlist.

It said 73% of schools in Kémo district in the centre of the country had been attacked, as had 51% of schools in the capital Bangui.

The government should adopt policies prohibiting, or at least minimising, the use of schools as bases by military units, said Morna, who added that a "safe schools declaration" signed by the government was not being fully implemented.

Not secure

"One commander promised to kill me in the presence of my students. He quickly removed his knife and showed it to me ... The children were scared," said one teacher, one of the witnesses and victims interviewed for the report.

"We work in an atmosphere of worry all the time. This is why students don't return [to school]. We are not totally secure here, anything can happen," a teacher at one school said.

Voters are due to go to the polls on October 18 to choose a new government to replace the current caretaker body, whose mandate runs out at the end of the year, and restore democratic rule.

However, preparations for the elections have been delayed, and the head of the interim parliament has said it is likely the polls will be delayed. They have already been postponed several times.

The international community can help the country by "improving school security, monitoring violations, and raising awareness of attacks and military use of schools," said Morna.

Read more on:    seleka  |  central african republic  |  central africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.