In 2016, militiamen in the Central African Republic began setting up base at schools and preventing students from attending classes. In September, the U.N. responded by ordering the militia groups to vacate the schools, threatening to send in forces if they didn’t comply. The U.N.’s goal was to enable children to resume their education in the Central African Republic.
The Central African Republic, a land-locked nation of 5 million people, was thrown into a brutal civil war when its government was forced out in 2013 by Muslim Seleka rebels. According to the national post, the civil war has led to the country being ranked 187 out of 188 countries on the human development index.
According to the U.N., 10,000 children in the Central African Republic were kept from school due to the presence of militiamen. About a third of all schools in the country were either set on fire, shot by bullets, pillaged or occupied by armed groups. As a result, approximately 400 primary schools were shut down.
The U.N. took a firm stand against the militia and issued a statement known as “Minusca,” which mandated that no armed forces go within 1,650 feet of schools and warned against further interference in education in the Central African Republic.
UNICEF also denounced the militia groups’ behavior. UNICEF’s Chief of Communications in the Central African Republic, Donaig Le Du, issued a firm statement that despite the conflict and civil war occurring, education in the Central African Republic should be spared. School is not politically affiliated or party to the conflict, she said, and children should not be prevented from attending.
Despite disruption in areas near Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, children across the country returned back to school to resume their educations at the end of September as a result of the U.N.’s warning.
The U.N. recently reported that since the civil war broke out in the Central African Republic, “considerable progress” has been made. Ten thousand U.N. troops and 1,700 police are keeping peace as well between armed groups, and an additional 12,000 peacekeepers are stationed in the country. Although the state of the nation remains fragile, it is in a better place overall than it was in 2013.
– Alex Fidler