Akoursoulbak — The United Nations Task Force on Children Associated with Armed Groups or Forces welcomes the release of more than 30 children by the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) in the North of the Central African Republic.
Twenty-eight boys and four girls were released on 13 June in the northern prefecture of Bamingui Bangoran after months of negotiations between armed groups and the United Nations Task Force, which includes UNICEF. The CPJP signed an agreement in 2011 stipulating the release of all children.
The release of this first group of children by the CPJP was a very positive step in the UN Task Force's work with armed groups in the Central African Republic. "This first success is an indication that even in this difficult context results can be achieved," said UNICEF Chief of Child Protection Fosca Giulidori.
UNICEF and its partners focus on the physical and mental well-being of the children by providing transitional care. The UN Task Force and the Danish Refugee Council give life-skills training and engage children in activities aimed at building a positive future for them. These include basic education, sports, cultural activities and vocational skills.
UNICEF said such support is part of a long-term commitment to children associated with armed groups and to the conflict-affected communities into which they are returning.
"We are working to help children reunite with their families and build resilience, and we are engaging with families and communities to prevent re-recruitment," Giulidori said. "The UN continues to be committed to the immediate release of all children from armed groups."
UNICEF expects more releases in coming weeks, as other armed groups that signed the 2011 agreement, such as the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity, make good on their commitments.