Aid workers stay behind to protect rescued child soldiers

Advancing rebels are 45 miles from capital of Central African Republic

 

Please donate to our appeal for child soldiers here.

The 64 former child soldiers rescued by the children's charity Unicef, in work being funded by The Independent's Christmas appeal, have been moved to a place of safety in the Central African Republic as rebel troops advanced to just 45 miles outside the capital Bangui.

Amid a deteriorating security situation, the United Nations has evacuated 200 expat staff and family members from the country. The United States also urged its nationals to leave.

Among the departing UN workers are a small number of Unicef staff who were temporarily evacuated to Yaoundé in neighbouring Cameroon on Boxing Day. But key Unicef aid workers have remained to protect and take care of the rescued child soldiers.

"Emergency activities in the Central African Republic are currently being managed by four senior staff who will receive support from other remaining Unicef workers," said a Unicef UK spokesperson. The programme employs a significant proportion of local staff who, along with the senior international aid workers, will remain "in daily contact with national and local authorities to ensure the protection and well-being for these children".

The country's president Francois Bozize has appealed to the United States and the former colonial power, France, to intervene but the French president, François Hollande, indicated yesterday that the intervention of the 200 French troops stationed in the country will be restricted to protecting French nationals and interests. The nuclear energy group Areva mines uranium in the south of the country to power nuclear plants in France.

US Special Forces are in the country to help local forces track down the Lord's Resistance Army, the brutal rebel group responsible for killing thousands of civilians across four African nations and for abducting many children as soldiers and sex slaves.

There is "no way" France would "intervene in the internal business of a country," said Mr Hollande. "Those days are over."

The children rescued by Unicef have been transferred to the organisation's secure compound in Bangui. "A whole network of support is being provided there – doctors, supplies, psychosocial support etc, to ensure their wellbeing," a Unicef spokesperson added. Aid workers in the capital say there are as yet few real consequences from the rebel offensive on life in the capital.

Rebel commanders have announced that they will not attempt to storm the city. One of them, Colonel Djouma Narkoyo, told Reuters by telephone: "For reasons of security and protection of civilians, we no longer consider it necessary to wage the battle for Bangui and to send our troops there as General Francois Bozize ... has already lost control of the country."

That said, rebel commanders have previously broken promises to stop advancing in their attempts to overthrow President Bozize, who came to power in a 2003 rebellion. He has won two subsequent elections but has repeatedly relied on foreign intervention to fend off rebel attacks. Neighbouring Chad has troops in the country though they appear to have done little to stem the advance of the rebels who have taken several major towns in the north of the country.

While the government and rebels busy themselves with military and political manoeuvring, Unicef is exploring several options to transfer the rescued children from their emergency home in the Unicef compound to secure specialised residential centres. There the children will continue the delicate processes of psychological rehabilitation which must follow their physical demobilisation.

As soon as the security situation stabilises they will be returned to school or vocational training. Later they will be reunited with their families or resettled with foster carers as part of the extended Unicef programme to restore their stolen childhoods.

Unicef's work with child soldiers is funded entirely by donations, please click here to support it. Text CHILD to 70030 to donate five pounds. Click here to bid in our charity auction

Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvReview: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
Review: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
Arts & Entertainment
Charlotte Brontë, the English novelist, poet and the eldest of the three Bronte sisters who lived into adulthood, has been celebrated with a Google Doodle depicting her most famous novel, Jane Eyre.
arts + ents "Reader, they doodled her".

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes looks on during his side's defeat to Everton
footballBaines and Mirallas score against United as Everton keep alive hopes of a top-four finish
Sport
Tour de France 2014Sir Rodney Walker on organising the UK stages of this year’s race
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Brown Findlay as Mary Yellan in ‘Jamaica Inn’
TVJessica Brown Findlay on playing the spirited heroine of Jamaica Inn
News
YouTube clocks up more than a billion users a month
mediaEuropean rival Dailymotion certainly thinks so
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
News
People
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLE
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Geography Teacher

£130 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Secondary Geography Teacher Lo...

Do you want to work in Education?

£55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you a dynamic and energeti...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: SEN TAs, LSAs and Support Workers needed...

Private Client Senior Manager - Sheffield

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Sheffield office of this...

Day In a Page

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

The man who could have been champion of the world

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
Didn’t she do well?

Didn’t she do well?

Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
Before they were famous

Before they were famous

Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players