Africa: Children and war: Appeal for better protection
30-07-1997 News Release 97/29
A conference on children in situations of armed conflict in Africa, held in Addis Ababa from 24 to 26 July and attended by ministers, international organizations and NGOs, agreed unanimously to support a recommendation by the Council of Ministers of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) condemning the recruitment of children under the age of 18 into armed forces or groups.
The conference, which was organized by the African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) in cooperation with the OAU, also appealed to all African governments to ratify the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and urged that a special committee be set up to follow up its decisions, working closely with the OAU's conflict resolution mechanism. In addition, it unanimously adopted a recommendation urging that a code of conduct for peace-keeping forces be drafted with a view to providing special protection and treatment for children, in accordance with the rules laid down in the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols.
The ICRC mission to the OAU took part in the conference as an observer and gave a talk on the tracing of unaccompanied children and family reunification.
The participants also discussed a wide range of issues relating to displaced persons, the rights of children and child labour in armed conflicts, anti-personnel landmines and alternatives to refugee camps.