41 children are released from armed groups in the Central African Republic
More releases expected as talks continue
BANGUI/YAOUNDE, 28 May 2013 – Forty-one children were released on 27 and 28 May in the capital Bangui following a series of meetings between UNICEF and the Head of State of the Transition in the Central African Republic Michel Djotodia. The children are between the ages of 14 and 17, among which seven are girls.
“The release of these children is the just the first step. We are committed to ensuring that every child in armed groups in CAR is released and reintegrated back into society, and I have been assured that we can expect more children will be released in the coming days and weeks,” said UNICEF CAR Representative Souleymane Diabate.
“UNICEF is working with the government of CAR to immediately verify, release, reunify and reintegrate children who had been recruited by the Seleka forces and armed groups associated with them. We are very encouraged by the collaboration of the Government who has expressed their commitment to take urgent action,” he added.
Recent fighting in the country led to a sharp increase in the recruitment of children across the country. Before the crisis, UNICEF estimated there were over 2,000 children associated with armed groups and forces. Violence and insecurity make children more vulnerable to recruitment particularly if they are separated from their families, displaced from their homes or have limited access to basic services and education.
The 41 children are now at a UNICEF-supported Transit and Orientation Centre that provides basic education, sports, vocational skills and psychosocial support while children’s families are traced and reintegration is prepared. Until Monday this week, there were 15 children at the centre in the final process of being reunified with their families in the North of the country.
In 2012, UNICEF and partners released and reintegrated 345 children associated with armed groups. Since 2007, over 1,000 girls and boys have been released from armed groups with UNICEF’s support.
However, due to the deterioration of the humanitarian situation, needs have significantly increased since December 2012. The scale of the humanitarian crisis is such that immediate and additional funding is needed to help UNICEF respond to the immediate needs of children affected by the conflict over the coming months.
UNICEF works in more than 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: http://www.unicef.org
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