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UNICEF raises the alarm in Mali over recruitment of children

Calls on all parties to put children out of the way of conflict

BAMAKO/GENEVA/DAKAR, 17 August 2012 - UNICEF has received credible reports that armed groups in the north of Mali are increasingly recruiting and using children for military purposes. While it is difficult to establish the precise figures, reliable sources have stated that numbers involved are in the hundreds and appear to be escalating.

In July, UNICEF reported that at least 175 boys, aged between 12 and 18, were directly associated with armed groups in the north.

UNICEF calls on all parties to the conflict, leaders and community members to ensure that children are protected from the harmful impact of armed conflict and do not participate in hostilities.

When a child actively participates in hostilities, whether as a combatant or in a support role, she or he is likely to be exposed to high risk, with a potentially long-term negative impact on her or his health and well-being.   The recruitment and use of children under the age of 18 by armed groups is prohibited by international law, and constitutes a war crime and crime against humanity if children are recruited and used under the age of 15.

Across the northern part of Mali, the global malnutrition rate is among the highest in the country. Schools have been closed for much of the year. Tens of thousands of families have been uprooted from their homes and exposed to violence and distress. Cholera has surfaced along the Niger River. Community coping mechanisms are being stretched to the extreme and risk failure, with negative consequences for children and women.

As at mid-August, UNICEF had received just 28 per cent of its USD 58 million emergency appeal for 2012.

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

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For further information, please contact:
Marixie Mercado, UNICEF Geneva,
Tel + 4179 756 7703,

Martin Dawes, UNICEF Regional Office, Dakar,
Tel + 221 33 869 5842,




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