Latest release of child combatants "important step" in CAR

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Children associated with the anti-Balaka militia take part in a release ceremony in Bambari in the Central African Republic (CAR) in May 2015. Photo: UNICEF/Donaig Le Du

More than 600 children have been released since May by an armed group to the conflict in the Central African Republic, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has reported.

UNICEF and the UN mission in the country facilitated a ceremony on Friday where 163 children, including five girls, were handed over by the anti-Balaka militia.

The youngsters will be supported in going back to school or pursuing vocational training.

Dianne Penn reports.

The 10 armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) reached agreement in May to release all children from their ranks.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) described Friday's ceremony as an "important step" towards ending the recruitment and use of children by these groups.

The agency estimates that as many as 10,000 children have been associated with warring parties in the two years of conflict between Christian and Muslim militias in the CAR.

UNICEF expects to see "hundreds" more children released before the end of the year.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 34"

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