Yesterday four children – two girls and two boys - were reunited with their father by UNICEF and UN-OCHA officials after being abducted by a militia four days ago, during which time they were threatened to be killed.
“I am happy that the children are okay and are now reunited with their father. This was a potentially heart breaking situation that fortunately has turned out well,” said Alexis Kamanzi, an OCHA Civil-Military Coordination Officer in CAR, who negotiated the release of the children.
After their abduction on 24 February in Bangui, the siblings - aged between 3 and 13 years - were held for a ransom by a militia. Following the negotiation for their release – in which no ransom was paid - the four children were handed over to UNICEF and UN-OCHA on 26 February and received psychological support immediately from a partner organisation.
“These abducted children have been through some terrifying days,” said Abdou Dieng, the Senior Humanitarian Coordinator in CAR. “Their mother died recently, and then they were taken away from their father. Now they are safe.”
UNICEF is concerned that child abduction may pose a growing threat to children affected by conflict in the Central African Republic, particularly those who have been separated from their families.
“Child abduction would represent a new and disturbing deterioration in the conflict,” said UNICEF Central African Republic Representative, Souleymane Diabaté. “This incident illustrates how the rights of children are being violated and why children continue to be the most vulnerable in the Central African Republic crisis.”
UNICEF calls on the authorities to do all they can to prevent and investigate any attack against children, and bring perpetrators to justice.
Note to editors:
With now more than 150 staff on the ground, UNICEF has considerably and rapidly scaled up its humanitarian presence/operations in CAR to be able to adequately respond to the growing magnitude and severity of this crisis. UNICEF is strengthening its field presence by adding staff in established field offices in Bossangoa, Bambari and Kaga Bandoro as well as coordinating outreach strategies in the west and centre of the country.
For further details please contact Claire Blackburn 0207 375 6261 firstname.lastname@example.org
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