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232 children released from Mayi Mayi forces in the Kivus by UNICEF and partners

GOMA, DRC, 16 November 2007 - UNICEF and Save the Children, in collaboration with the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) have secured the release of 232 children from Mayi Mayi forces over the last few days.  182 children were separated from the Mayi Mayi Baleine Brigade in Beni, North Kivu last week.  Their release follows an intensive media and outreach campaign on the non-recruitment and non-use of children by armed groups. 

The average age of the separated children that were recently recruited in the wake of increased conflict in North Kivu is 14 years of age.  The majority of the 232 children are currently in transitory care facilities and awaiting family reunification.  Once reunified, they will receive assistance to go back to school, undertake vocational training, or start small income generating activities.

While UNICEF lauds this positive development it remains concerned about the hundreds of children who remain in armed groups and forces in the DRC.  UNICEF is calling on all armed groups and forces to release these children immediately into the care of child protection agencies as part of the National Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration (DDR) Programme.
UNICEF continues to respond to the North Kivu internal displacement emergency in the health, nutrition, education, child protection, sexual violence, emergency shelter and essential household items, and water, sanitation and hygiene sectors.  The humanitarian relief programs of UNICEF and partners have reached over 400,000 people since the emergency began in December 2006.

UNICEF is present in over 150 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 further information please contact:
Jaya Murthy, UNICEF DRC, +243 81 230 5933, jmurthy@unicef.org
Pernille Ironside, UNICEF DRC, + 243 81 830 5908, pironside@unicef.org




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