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The Independent is working with UNICEF this year to help rebuild the lives of some of the most damaged children on the planet – child soldiers, forced to murder friends, family and strangers alike before they even reach their teens.  

All the money raised in this appeal will support UNICEF’s work to help children rescued from armed groups in the Central African Republic, providing immediate care and protection as well as supporting longer term projects that help children recover, be reunited with their families and have a better childhood. CLICK HERE TO DONATE NOW

The long road to acceptance for kidnap victims of rebel fighters

A programme in the Central African Republic helps former child soldiers open businesses and readjust to society

Protesters in the Central African Republic capital, Bangui, demanding the French do more to help stop the rebel advance

Aid workers stay behind to protect rescued child soldiers

Advancing rebels are 45 miles from capital of Central African Republic

Help the children brutalised by war

As most of you spend today putting the final touches to your Christmas preparations, perhaps the last thing you want to do is contemplate the troubles of those living thousands of miles away in war-torn Africa.

The Independent's charity auction

Fancy attending a pre-match press conference at Man City?  How about an original work by Tracey Emin, or a private gig from Mark Steel?

There have been nearly 600 recorded child abductions by the LRA since 2008. Joseph Kony's child bride was one of them

With no end in sight to the crisis, Unicef is focusing efforts on providing care

'Children draw like this when they are distressed. Look at the way the grass, and the flames from the roof of the school, have been done in such harsh vertical lines. They have been scored in quite a violent action. It's almost certainly a representation of their distress. Note that, as the captives are roped and led away, even the dog has been taken'

The horrors they've seen: A child psychologist assesses the art of Africa's former child soldiers

These drawings, created at rehabilitation centres, testify to scarcely imaginable suffering. Dr Rachel Calam assesses their meaning.

Rebel militias recruit child soldiers

There is hope for damaged victims of a brutal diamond war in the Central African Republic

In theory the rebel groups are fighting the Government. In reality they're battling for dominance of the diamonds, and they see children as the ideal warriors

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