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Two children beheaded in CAR violence: UNICEF

31 December 2013 7:30

342859_CAR-child-soldierThe United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says that at least two children have been beheaded in the sectarian violence that has gripped the Central African Republic.

The UN agency for children said on Monday that “unprecedented” levels of violence were being committed against youngsters, adding that it could verify the deaths of at least 16 children since the outbreak of fighting in early December, AFP reported.

“We are witnessing unprecedented levels of violence against children,” said the UNICEF representative in Central Africa, Souleymane Diabate.

“More and more children are being recruited into armed groups, and they are also being directly targeted in atrocious revenge attacks,” he pointed out.

“Targeted attacks against children are a violation of international humanitarian and human rights law and must stop immediately,” the UNICEF representative added.

On November 22, Souleymane said the number of children recruited as soldiers in the Central African Republic had risen up to 6,000.

On Sunday, the international group Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders–MSF) called for urgent aid for more than 100,000 people who gathered at a makeshift camp near the Bangui M’Poko International Airport.

MSF said it was receiving between 15 and 20 injured a day and that there was no proper sanitation or enough supplies of food and water at the airport camp, which stretches for kilometers beside a runway.

“If nothing is done in the next two weeks there is a risk of an epidemic breaking out,” said Lindis Hurum, MSF coordinator at the airport camp, adding, “MSF demands an increase in the emergency actions being taken by humanitarian agencies.”

The Central African Republic spiraled into chaos in March when a coalition of rebels, known as Seleka, overthrew President Francois Bozizé and brought Michel Djotodia to power. Bozizé fled the country after his ouster.

On September 13, Djotodia dissolved the Seleka coalition. Some of the rebels later joined the country’s regular army while some defied.

France invaded its former colony on December 5 after the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution giving the African Union and France the go-ahead to send troops to the country.

Paris claims the aim of the mission is to create stability in the country in order to allow humanitarian aid to reach violence-hit areas.

There are many mineral resources, including gold and diamond, in the Central African Republic. However, the country is extremely poor and has faced a series of rebellions and coups since it gained independence in 1960.

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