Training Centre for former child soldiers opens in Eastern Chad
Guéréda, Chad, 23 March, 2011– A UNICEF-supported Training Centre for former child soldiers and other vulnerable children opened its doors this week.
It is located in the remote city of Guéréda, in eastern Chad, forty kilometers from the border with Sudan, where many children were recruited by rebel groups in recent years.
"This Centre shows yet again UNICEF’s firm commitment to accompany children associated with armed forces and groups throughout their reintegration process: from their demobilization until their reunification with their families and their communities", said DrMarzioBabille, UNICEF Representative in Chad.
"Our goal is to create opportunities for these children who’ve been robbed of their childhood and to ensure that they can find their place in society, through education and vocational training", he added.
The Centre is administered by UNICEF partner Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) and has been funded with the support of the French cooperation.
50 students have already enrolled for its first training session. Apprentices can learn mechanics, tailoring and carpentry, and have a 9-month training to complete before graduation.
"Masonry, agriculture and welding will be added to the options offered, depending of course on the available funding for our Centre", explained its Director, Emery Sandy Nzeiyimana. All potential beneficiaries haven’t been able to enroll yet due to lack of accommodation in Guéréda for children who live in remote villages.
19 year-old Abdelnassir was demobilized from the Front Uni pour le Changement Démocratique (FUC), a rebel group that signed a Peace Agreement with the Government in 2006.
Handed over to UNICEF, he spent a year in the UNICEF Centre of Transit and Orientation in N’Djamena, where he started learning mechanics, before being reunited with his family in December 2008.
He won’t miss out on the opportunity to continue his studies in his hometown: "I came here to learn a trade. I want to master mechanics and then work in a garage, here in Guéréda", he said.
The Centre is also open to other vulnerable children in and around Guéréda. With the support of local authorities, who provided the grounds for the construction of the Centre, the message is spreading around the community: the day after the inauguration, the Centre welcomed its first six female students.
Background Information: UNICEF and the Government of Chad signed an agreement for the demobilization of child soldiers in May 2007. This agreement followed up on the Paris Protocols, signed in February 2006, whereby Chad committed itself to put an end to the recruitment of children by armed forces and groups.To date, nearly 1,000 demobilized Chadian children have received assistance from UNICEF as part of its rehabilitation programme.
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