Liberia UNICEF chief reviews efforts to aid wartraumatized children

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)head Carol Bellamy is on a three-day visit to Liberia to assess progress in reintegrating thousands of youngsters who were abducted, recruited as soldiers or sex slaves and otherwise exploited in the 15-war civil war that tore the West African country apart. Ms. Bellamy will talk to demobilized children now living at a UNICEF-supported interim care centre while efforts to trace their families are underway. She is also scheduled to visit a child-friendly space in a camp for internally displaced people, a drop-in centre for sexually abused children, as well as a vocational training programme. During the war, an estimated 15,000 children were forcibly abducted or recruited as soldiers, cooks, sex slaves and porters. Ms. Bellamy is to meet with the Chairman of the National Transitional Government, Charles Gyude Bryant, as well as the senior UN envoy to the country, Jacques Paul Klein, government ministers, aid agencies, non-governmental organizations and donors. The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), with some 16,000 troops and police on the ground, is supporting a ceasefire and peace process between former President Charles Taylor’s forces and two major opposition groups in preparation for elections next year. It is also promoting humanitarian activities. read more