The Human Rights section of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), in collaboration with the Cercle des ONG, the regional delegation of the Ministry of Human Rights and Promotion of Liberties, and the 5th Military Region, organized a ceremony on 12 February 2010 to commemorate the International Day of Child Soldiers at the Yahya Hissen Mardo Military camp of the Armée nationale tchadienne (ANT) in Abeche.
The day is celebrated in order to sensitize on the issue of thousands of child soldiers around the world. According to a recent report of the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, more than 250,000 young girls and boys below 18 years of age are associated with more than 30 conflicts around the world. These are children recruited willingly or by force, and used by various parties to the conflict as combatants, messengers, porters, cooks, spies, or for sexual purposes.
The ceremony in Abéché was attended by regional authorities, representatives of UN agencies, military officers, various civil society organizations, as well as more than 130 ANT members. The welcoming speech was given by the Deputy Commander of the 5th military region, while the ceremony was officially opened by the Préfet of Ouarra, representing the Governor of Ouaddai.
In her speech, MINURCAT's Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General, Ms. Rima Salah, commended the efforts of the Government of Chad towards the eradication of the phenomenon of child soldiers, as evidenced by the various joint verification and sensitization missions. She also reiterated the engagement of MINURCAT to continue its support for such efforts.
The delegate of the United Nations Children's Fund highlighted activities conducted in partnership with the Chadian Government, including the demobilization of children and their care in the Transit and Orientation Centres. She insisted that such support and cooperation will continue. The delegate of UNHCR also reiterated the determination to work hand in hand with the Government for preventive measures with regard to refugees.