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ICC Note:

Armed groups continue to occupy, loot, and damage schools, both public and Christian, in the Central African Republic, preventing thousands of children from getting their education, according to a report released by Human Rights Watch. Since late 2012, the country has been in crisis with militias controlling much of the countryside. Because of their solid structures, armed groups, for use as bases or barracks, prefer school buildings. However, this greatly affects the children who attended schools in these buildings. According to the interim representative for UNICEF in the CAR Aboubacry Tall, this means the whole country is running at a sub-optimal level. “When children cannot go to school, they end up in the streets and they become vulnerable to all kinds of things, including being recruited into and pressed into service by the armed groups…. What it means is we are basically building the kind of citizen that we would not want to run into in a dark corner on a street somewhere.”

04/11/2017 Central African Republic (New Delhi Times) – In the Central African Republic, armed groups have occupied, looted and damaged schools, preventing thousands of children from getting their education, according to a report released by Human Rights Watch. The country has been in crisis since late 2012, with militias controlling much of the countryside.

School buildings are preferred by armed groups for use as bases or barracks as they are typically the most solid structures in town.

But according to Aboubacry Tall, the interim representative for UNICEF in the CAR, this basically means the whole country is running at a sub-optimal level.

“When children cannot go to school, they end up in the streets and they become vulnerable to all kinds of things, including being recruited into and pressed into service by the armed groups…. What it means is we are basically building the kind of citizen that we would not want to run into in a dark corner on a street somewhere,” said Tall.

Lawlessness in rural areas

CAR government forces maintain little control outside the capital Bangui. In the countryside, Christian and Muslim armed militias fight between themselves for mineral resources and trade routes. Bandits and other forces like the Lord’s Resistance Army also take advantage of the poor security situation.

Human Rights Watch researcher Lewis Mudge traveled throughout the CAR in November 2016 and January 2017 investigating access to schools.

Mudge found even if the fighters were just outside the school, the students still could not, or would not, attend. Some children would have to pass by militia members who killed members of their family.

“We found just scores of children who spoke about how this had reduced self-worth, how they felt like they had no future, how they used to have big dreams and do not anymore,” Mudge said.

The Saint Francois public primary school in Bangui was occupied by anti-Balaka militia in December 2013. They used it as a barracks, said school director Edouard Pere.

He said they destroyed all the material. They broke the students’ desks. Students have to sit on the ground. They destroyed the library. They took all the books. They left the school in a very bad state.

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