Manchester United’s plea to free the children of war

Sir Alex Ferguson asks club’s 75 million supporters to join The Independent’s campaign to help child soldiers in Central African Republic.

Share

 

Please donate to our appeal for child soldiers here.

Manchester United, arguably the biggest football club in the world, have thrown their weight behind The Independent’s Christmas Appeal to raise money for the rescue of child soldiers by Unicef in one of Africa’s poorest nations.

Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager, today appeals for fans of the club – which is said to have 75 million supporters worldwide – to make donations to this newspaper’s appeal for funds to help the leading children’s charity Unicef in its work negotiating the release of children under the control of rebel militias in the Central African Republic, one of the 10 poorest countries on the continent.

The Appeal centres on the rescue and rehabilitation of boys pressed into fighting and girls forced into sex slavery. Sir Alex says: “Myself and everyone at Manchester United are completely committed to helping Unicef make a change for these young people, and are proud to support The Independent and Unicef appeal.”

Some of the club’s best known footballers are also backing the Appeal. “These kids are missing out on the love and care of parents,” Ryan Giggs, the most decorated player in English football history, says today. “I can’t begin to imagine how scared they must be. So I’m urging The Independent’s readers to support this campaign, and give these kids their childhood back.”

It is estimated that today some 300,000 children – boys and girls from the age of seven to 17 – are involved in more than 30 conflicts worldwide. One country where there is a large number of child soldiers is the Central African Republic which is home to a number of rebel army groups that use child soldiers. The most notorious is the Lord’s Resistance Army led by the sadistic warlord Joseph Kony which was founded in Uganda and southern Sudan but which now operates primarily in the Central African Republic and neighbouring Chad.

“I think it’s awful that boys and girls, some not much older than my own children, are being snatched from their families and forced to work and fight,” says Rio Ferdinand, the former England captain. “I would really like to encourage all readers to do something to help.”

Our Christmas Appeal this year is asking readers to donate to Unicef’s work in the Central African Republic where it has an extensive programme to negotiate with rebel groups to get these children freed. It then runs transit centres where children who have been released are demobilised, put back in school, given psychological help and vocational training, and are reunited with their families or resettled with foster carers. To do this Unicef depends entirely on voluntary donations. Despite its title as the United Nations children’s organisation it does not receive any money from the UN.

Other Man Utd players have also endorsed the Appeal. The former French captain Patrice Evra and the top Mexico striker Javier Hernandez both enthusiastically backed the Appeal at a United for Unicef gala dinner to celebrate 13 years of the partnership between the club and the charity– the longest running of its kind between a sporting organisation and a global charity. “The work that Unicef is doing to help rescue and rehabilitate these kids is fantastic,” said Evra, who has privately visited the charity’s work in the field.

“Everyone at Manchester United is passionate and committed to supporting this charity,” said Sir Alex.

“For some of these boys and girls war is all they can remember, and that’s no way to grow up,” says Javier Hernandez, the young Mexican international. “With the help of the Independent appeal Unicef can really make a difference in the lives of these children. That’s why I am calling on The Independent’s readers to back this appeal 100 per cent.”

(Watch our playlist of videos from the Christmas Appeal here)

Sir Alex Ferguson: Throughout our 13-year United for Unicef partnership I’ve visited many of Unicef’s projects and met many of the children Unicef help, and to hear how young people suffer around the world is always devastating. The boys and girls that this appeal is helping are not only taken away from the safety and love of their families, but then forced into life as a soldier. That this is still happening in this day and age is an outrage. Myself and everyone at Manchester United are completely committed to helping Unicef make a change for these young people, and are proud to support The Independent and Unicef appeal.

Ryan Giggs: These kids are missing out on the love and care of parents, and are missing out on their childhood. I can’t begin to imagine how scared they must be. I’ve been lucky enough to see for myself the difference that Unicef can make to these young lives, so I’m urging The Independent’s readers to support this campaign, and give these kids their childhood back.

Rio Ferdinand: I think it’s awful that boys and girls, some not much older than my own children, are being snatched from their families and forced to work and fight. I couldn’t believe it when I heard there are still over 300,000 children around the world who are directly involved in fighting, living without enough food, and without their family’s love. I’m really happy to support The Independent’s and Unicef’s Christmas appeal this year and would really like to encourage all readers to do something to help.

Patrice Evra: The work that Unicef is doing to help rescue and rehabilitate these kids is fantastic. I have seen the great work that Unicef do with vulnerable children and I know that all of us at Manchester United are completely committed to supporting Unicef in this cause, and I’m calling on others to do the same.

Javier Hernandez: We all have a responsibility to do everything in our power to give these kids a chance of a real childhood. For some of these boys and girls war is all they can remember, and that’s no way to grow up. With the help of The Independent’s appeal Unicef can really make a difference in the lives of these children. They can make sure they have a safe place to grow up, someone to care for them, and a chance to get an education to give them the future they deserve.

Tweet your support for the Independent/Unicef  #childsoldiers appeal with  @rioferdy and @CH14_ and click here to donate. Text CHILD to 70030 to donate five pounds. Click here to bid in our charity auction

 

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Linux Systems Administrator

£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...

(Junior) IT Systems Administrator / Infrastructure Analyst

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside  

Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps

Howard Jacobson
Is tackling child abuse in the courts the best solution?  

Child abuse and the moral entrepreneurs who cash in on it

Boyd Tonkin
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice