UN: UNICEF announces release of 163 more children by armed group in CAR

New York, US (PANA) - An armed group in Central African Republic (CAR) has released 163 children in the country where thousands of other boys and girls are still serving as combatants, cooks and messengers for the country’s militant factions, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced Friday.

"This release is a sign that the process of implementing the commitment made by the
leaders of these groups, as a part of the peace and reconciliation process, is on track,"
UNICEF Representative in CAR, Mohamed Malick Fall said in a statement, obtained by
PANA in New York.

“We fully expect to see hundreds more children released before the end of this year," Mr. Fall said, noting that of the 163 children, five girls were released Friday in a ceremony in the town of Batangafo where the handover was facilitated by UNICEF and the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA).

The children received medical care and spoke to social workers before they were taken to a transition centre, where they will be supported in either going back to school or enrolling in vocational training.

Fall added that UNICEF and partners will also trace and reunify the children with their
families.

The statement quoted Ms. Diane Corner, deputy special representative of the
UN peacekeeping mission in CAR, as saying: "MINUSCA is resolved with all partners
to ensure the protection of children and I herewith reaffirm its determination to multiply
efforts to identify and separate children who are waiting to return to normal life."

According to UNICEF, between 6,000 and 10,000 children have been associated with
armed factions in CAR since 2013, including those serving as combatants, as well
as those working as cooks, messengers and in other roles.

It disclosed that smaller release ceremonies also took place in the capital, Bangui,
last week, and earlier in August in other districts, bringing to 645 the number of
children liberated since a May agreement by the country’s 10 armed groups to
release all children from their ranks.

The agreement also commits the groups to ending additional recruitment of children
and gives UNICEF and its partners immediate and unrestricted access to the areas
under the groups’ control in order to identify and verify the number of affected
children and to secure their release.
-0-  PANA  AA/AR  28Aug2015

28 august 2015 18:51:26




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