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Christian charity urges solution on Central Africa Republic child soldiers

by Antony Bushfield

Government leaders, European Union representatives, NGOs and donors are discussing reconstruction in CAR at the landmark summit.

World Vision told Premier it hoped the delegates would commit to restoring peace and security.

Moussa Sangara, CAR's Response Director, said: "Violence has scarred a generation of children. They have witnessed and committed crimes that no child should be exposed to.

"This conference is pivotal to the future of children and their families in CAR. We need leaders to commit to social and economic action that will bring about real change.

"And we need children, communities and faith leaders to be a part of this as, ultimately, they will be the ones who can make peace a reality.

"The former child soldiers I work with are desperate for an end to the violence. Over 1400 former child soldiers in our 'Peace Clubs' have turned their lives around. They've rejected violence in favour of peace, and they are telling their friends and families to do the same."

The violence in the Central Africa Republic started in 2013 when the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power triggering revenge attacks by Christian militias.

Over 13, 000 children have been conscripted by various militias since then.

Child soldier Francis, not his real name, said: "I joined the militia after my brother was killed. I didn't want his death to go unpunished."

At the age of 13 he joined a local armed group, and by 14 he had killed five people.

"I used a knife," he explains. Francis escaped the armed groups control and made his way back to his home with the help of World Vision.

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