The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has started talks with rebel groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) to negotiate the release of hundreds of child soldiers; 220 have been freed so far.

Discussions have started with the full support of the Government of CAR, which has engaged in talks with the UNICEF since the first UN assessment mission in the Vakaga region identified armed children among the ranks of non-State armed groups in January, the agency said in a news release.

“This UNICEF programme not only contributes significantly to children’s welfare, but also helps resolve one of CAR’s most pressing problems,” said the agency’s CAR Humanitarian Coordinator, Toby Lanzer.

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