As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in CAR, and traffickers exploit victims from CAR abroad. Observers report traffickers primarily exploit CAR nationals within the country, and transport a smaller number of victims between CAR and Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, or South Sudan. Traffickers—including transient merchants, herders, and armed groups—subject children to domestic servitude, commercial sexual exploitation, as well as forced labor in agriculture, artisanal gold and diamond mines, shops, and street vending within CAR. Also within the country, some relatives subject children to forced labor in domestic work, and traffickers subject Ba’aka (pygmy) minorities to forced labor in agricultural work, especially in the region around the Lobaye rainforest. Criminal elements exploit girls in sex trafficking in Bangui and other urban areas. Some relatives or community members coerce girls into forced marriages and subsequently subject the girls to forced labor in domestic servitude, or sex trafficking.
Surges in violent conflict in recent years have resulted in chronic instability and the displacement of more than one million people, increasing the vulnerability of men, women, and children to forced labor and sex trafficking. In 2018, approximately 641,000 people remained internally displaced and vulnerable to trafficking inside the country, and 591,000 individuals sought refuge in neighboring countries. This represents an increase from 402,000 internally displaced people and 464,000 refugees the previous year.
Armed militias associated with Anti-Balaka, Ex-Seleka, Lords Resistance Army, and other armed groups forcibly recruit and use child soldiers in CAR; however, there were no verified cases of the government supporting units recruiting or using child soldiers during the reporting period. International organizations reported armed groups recruited 299 children (196 boys and 103 girls) to serve as combatants, informants, messengers, porters, cooks, and sex slaves in 2018; armed groups also subjected children to forced labor in the mining sector. Since the conflict began in 2012, armed groups have recruited more than 14,000 children; in 2018, militias primarily recruited and used child soldiers from the prefectures of Haute-Kotto, Nana-Grebizi, and Ouaka. Although some children voluntarily join locally-organized community defense groups to protect their families from opposing militias, many commanders maintain influence over these children even after they are demobilized, increasing their risk of re-recruitment. Inadequately funded reintegration programming, continuing instability, and a lack of economic opportunity throughout the country exacerbate the risks of re-recruitment among former child soldiers.
The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) has more than 13,000 peacekeeping forces and police in CAR to protect civilians, provide security, support humanitarian operations, and promote and protect human rights, among other objectives. However, observers alleged MINUSCA peacekeepers sexually abused a CAR national during the reporting period. Observers report peacekeepers have sexually exploited over 100 victims since MINUSCA’s 2014 inception.