UNICEF issued a statement reporting two children were beheaded in December in the Central African Republic, and noted that violence against children is evidence of growing violence since conflict broke out in the capital of Bangui on December 5.
UNICEF and its partners verified that sixteen children were killed and sixty injured in December. Two of those children were beheaded, one was also mutilated.
UNICEF Representative to the Central African Republic Souleymane Diabate said:
"We are witnessing unprecedented levels of violence against children. More and more children are being recruited into armed groups, and they are also being directly targeted in atrocious revenge attacks.
Targeted attacks against children are a violation of international humanitarian and human rights law and must stop immediately. Concrete action is needed now to prevent violence against children."
Diabate outlined how "armed elements" can take necessary steps to protect children:
-- Clear directives by those in positions of authority within armed forces and groups to halt grave violations against children. The orders must make clear that children must not be recruited into the fighting, nor targeted.
-- The immediate release of children associated with armed forces and groups, and their protection from reprisals. Transit centers set up for the release and reintegration of children must also be protected from attacks.
-- Prohibiting attacks against health and education personnel, and the use of civilian spaces such as schools and hospitals for military purposes.
-- Allowing safe, unhindered passage of impartial humanitarian assistance.
The Central African Republic has been rocked by violence since Seleka, a Muslim-backed group, took control of the capital in March and removed Christian President François Bozizé.