AKOURSOULBAK, Central African Republic, 22 June 2012 – UNICEF welcomes the release of 32 children by the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP), the first release by the armed group since it agreed in 2011 to end the practice of recruiting and using children.
Twenty-eight boys and four girls were released on 13 June in the northern prefecture of Bamingui Bangoran after months of negotiations between the CPJP command and the United Nations Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on Grave Violations of Children’s rights, co-led by UNICEF and the Peace Support Mission in CAR (BINUCA).
The release of this first group of children was a very positive step in the UN Task Force’s work with armed groups in the Central African Republic. “This first success is an indication that even in this difficult context results can be achieved,” said UNICEF Chief of Child Protection Fosca Giulidori.
UNICEF and its partners focus on the physical and mental well-being of the children by providing transitional care. The UN Task Force and the Danish Refugee Council give life-skills training and engage children in activities aimed at building a positive future for them. These include basic education, sports, cultural activities and vocational skills.
UNICEF said such support is part of a long-term commitment to children associated with armed groups and to the conflict-affected communities into which they are returning.
“We are working to help children reunite with their families and build resilience, and we are engaging with families and communities to prevent re-recruitment,” Giulidori said. “The UN continues to be committed to supporting the CPJP and other armed groups to release all children from their ranks and put in place procedures to prevent children from joining.”
UNICEF expects more releases in coming weeks, as other armed groups that signed similar agreements with the UN, such as the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity, make good on their commitments.
About the UN Task Force on Children Associated with Armed Groups or Forces
In conflict-affected countries, the UN Task Force collects information on the recruitment or use of children; abduction, killing, maiming, rape or other sexual violence; attacks on schools and hospitals; and denial of humanitarian access. The Task Force also develops action plans with government forces and rebel groups to end and prevent these violations. The Task Force works with the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For more information, please contact:
Linda Tom, UNICEF Central African Republic,
Mobile + 236 7055 0210,