Global Policy Forum

Sierra Leone Rebels Hand Over 200 Children,

July 17, 1999

Freetown, Sierra Leone - Rebels who have signed a peace deal with Sierra Leone's government have handed over 200 abducted children and teenagers, state radio reported on Saturday. The children, handed over at Magbeni village about 47 miles (75 km) east of the capital Freetown, were passed on to the UN children's agency, UNICEF, the radio said. They included six girls who were pregnant and other girls with babies.

UNICEF says the rebels, who have been accused of killing, mutilating and raping civilians, have freed about 1,000 of the estimated 3,000 children they are believed to be holding.

The peace accord, signed in Togo on July 7, gives the rebels seats in government and calls for the disarmament and demobilisation of fighters. Freetown residents jammed phone lines into a local call-in radio show on Friday to express concern that rebels have started coming into the city before the start of planned disarmament.

Under the peace agreement, rebels were supposed to go to UN monitored disarmament centers, to be set up by the end of August. Rebel leaders say their fighters are short of food and medicine and pose no threat to Freetown residents.

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