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In CAR, Violations Excused, Child Soldiers Pulled Back from UN Skeleton Staff

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 25 -- Despite the announced ceasefire in the Central African Republic between the Seleka rebels and the Bozize government, rebels have taken over two more towns, UN envoy Margaret Vogt confirmed to Inner City Press on January 24: Kembe and Dimbi.

  Painting a perhaps unrealistically positive picture of the situation in CAR and the UN's work there, Vogt said that these ceasefire violations would be addressed by a "sensitization mission" that was heading to the area, with outside funding.

  Inner City Press also asked about child soldiers, including combattants' child brides, whom the UN had arranged to demobilize but were then pulled back by the CPJP rebels.

  Vogt acknowledged that this had happened, and said the CPJP claimed that "the procedures were not followed" for demobilization.

   Vogt said the issue, and presumably the children, would be followed up on. She said that at least until January 27 the UN in CAR is operating with a "skeleton staff."

  She mentioned involvement of rebels from Sudan and Chad, but did not provide any estimate of the percentage, said to be high. Why is this alleged to be a problem in Eastern Congo, but accepted without similar scrunity in CAR?

  Inner City Press is told by European Union sources that there is no movement and nothing to say for now about the EU's bid to head the UN Peacebuilding configuration for CAR.

  French Ambassador Gerard Araud on camera told Inner City Press that the EU is not a candidate for the post. But other EU sources say different. Watch this site.

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