BANGUI, Central Africa Republic, 16 August 2012 - UNICEF Advocate for Children Affected by War and bestselling author Ishmael Beah has arrived in the Central African Republic where he will spend seven days in the conflict-affected town of N’dele working with children associated with armed groups.
Ishmael will witness the release of the children into UNICEF-supported transitional care and attend high-level meetings in Bangui where he will advocate for the support of children associated with armed groups.
His mission will continue until the 24th of August, when he will travel to Johannesburg for media interviews from the 24th to the 29th of August.
You can follow him on Twitter @ishmaelbeah
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Numerous national and foreign armed groups, including the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) operate throughout Central African Republic, using and in some cases kidnapping children, where they are made to work as guards, combatants, domestic servants, and sex slaves and are subjected to violence, abuse, injury or even death.
On 13 June 2012, twenty-eight boys and four girls were released in the northern prefecture of Bamingui Bangoran. Ishmael Beah’s visit comprises part of the UN’s on-going work to end the practice of recruiting and using children in armed groups in Central African Republic. UNICEF and its partners focus on the physical and mental well-being of the children by providing transitional care and activities aimed at building a positive future for them. These include basic education, sports, cultural activities and vocational skills. UNICEF advocates for the long-term commitment to children associated with armed groups and to the conflict-affected communities into which they are returning. More releases are expected in the coming months, as other armed groups that signed release agreements with the UN make good on their commitments.
Attention broadcasters: Video footage of Ishmael’s trip will be available.
For more information, and footage please contact:
Linda Tom, UNICEF Central African Republic
Mobile + 236 7055 0210
Shantha Bloemen, Africa Services Unit, UNICEF Johannesburg
Tel: +27 79 495 5938