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.
The government funding has enabled Oxford City Council to visit more than 1,000 suspected beds in sheds since January last yearCredit:Oxford City Council/SWNS Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The council funded its operation after securing a £274,942 grant from the government’s Controlling Migration Fund, which aims to prevent the exploitation of migrants.It now plans to inspect a further 400 suspected “beds in sheds” by the end of the year as it urged residents to report any suspicions of people living in illegal accommodation.Linda Smith, from the council, said: “We work proactively to drive up standards in private rented housing and we won’t tolerate rogue landlords exploiting tenants by providing substandard and dangerous housing – whether this is a bed in a shed, a house in multiple occupation or a family home. “Conditions in some of these beds in sheds are appalling and we won’t accept this.” In 2013, Slough Borough Council estimated that up to 3000 people were illegally living in their town after it used a plane to construct a 3D map of every building. Rogue landlords who housed tenants in garden sheds were snared after a council flew an infrared plane above homes where suspected migrants resided.Oxford City Council deployed an aircraft equipped with thermal imaging technology to identify illegally built structures where people were found living in “appalling” conditions.The aircraft uses a sensor to detect high heat emissions from buildings that have not been “officially mapped” on the Ordnance Survey Mastermap produced by the council.The sheds, which were rented out for profit, were often constructed without planning permission or building approval. Twenty-one sheds have been shut down by the local authority with 31 enforcement notices served on landlords since it began its search in January last year.Two landlords have been prosecuted but the council is unable to provide details as their cases are still “in progress”. Other councils have used aircraft to detect heat signals from “suspicious dwellings” in order to locate illegal immigrants in the past. The aircraft spotted illegal structures where often vulnerable people are charged to live in cramped squalorCredit:Oxford City Council/SWNS