12 June 2009 The Government of Chad today released to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) 84 child soldiers who had been captured with rebel units last month, the agency announced.
This brings to 555 the number of child soldiers turned over to UNICEF since 2007, when the agency and the Government signed an agreement for the demobilization of under-age combatants throughout the country.
The children, some as young as 14 and 15, were among 236 rebels captured in early May, UNICEF said in a news release.
The agency said the children had been forced to join the rebels, mostly in eastern Chad near the Sudanese border, with some being held as long as two years. Fifteen of those captured last month had gunshot wounds, it added.
In April, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the Security Council and judicial systems to step up action in the fight to end the abuse of children in conflict zones around the world.
In a report on the issue, Mr. Ban encouraged national and international justice systems to take strong action ending impunity for crimes against children committed within their jurisdictions.
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