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Editorial: Why we have extended our Christmas Appeal

Ordinarily this newspaper's Christmas Appeal would have ended by now. We are extending it for two reasons. The first is that, despite gloomy predictions from some, Independent readers have responded with generosity to our appeal for donations to the work of Unicef in rescuing children from their fate as cannon fodder or sex slaves of armed militias in the Central African Republic. The fact that this is a difficult and complex issue – as illustrated by today's report on how child soldiers are brainwashed – has only prompted you to really engage with their plight.

The second is that the security situation in the Central African Republic has deteriorated to the point where the capital, Bangui, may fall to the rebels. Peace talks between them and the government are due to begin in nearby Gabon next week. The 64 child soldiers rescued since the beginning of the appeal have been moved to a secure compound where they are being cared for by Unicef workers who stayed behind when other international staff left. Donations to support that work are needed now more than ever. We hope you will continue to be generous.