In talks with the men who steal children

Evgeny Lebedev, the owner of the Independent, sees how Unicef have to negotiate with double-dealing rebel generals to secure the release of child soldiers

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The Independent Online


Please donate to our appeal for child soldiers here.

There are an estimated 2500 child soldiers in the Central African Republic, spread across several different rebel groups. Most of these militias have pledged to release the soldiers, servants and sex slaves who are under 18 from their ranks. Unicef has been working tirelessly to make sure the armed groups keep that pledge.

However, the process is fraught with danger and uncertainty, as Evgeny Lebedev found on a recent visit to the CAR. The rebels backtrack and dissemble, and Unicef staff put themselves at risk to try and make the generals keep their promises. This video shows just how tense such negotiations are.

With a fresh rebel advance now sweeping the CAR, still more children are at risk of being recruited into these armed groups, making Unicef's work there more important than ever before.

All Unicef's work with child soldiers in the CAR is funded by donations. Please be as generous as you can. Click here to donate. Text CHILD to 70030 to donate five pounds.

• £6 provides life-saving treatment for one child from fatal diarrhoea, pneumonia, or malaria, all diseases that the children are vulnerable to in the Central African Republic

• £15 pays for schooling for a child who has been rescued from an armed group – including providing all the books and stationary they need.

• £25 provides a child with all the essentials they need when they are first rescued. This ‘welcome kit’ includes clothes, underwear, toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, a blanket, mattress, and mosquito net.

• £62 provides vocational training to a child released from armed groups, providing them with a sustainable future

• £103 trains a teacher to help former child soldiers continue their education

• £150 pays for psychological support for one child who has been rescued

• £300 can buy enough toys for a centre for 50 rescued children to play with, to help them regain their childhood by having fun again

• £516 can support one child for a whole month. This covers the cost of everything they need at the rehabilitation centre, including care from dedicated and experienced staff, food, counselling, education, vocational training, and the costs for family reunification

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