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Liberia's child soldiers start to demobilise

Dozens of Liberia’s child soldiers who fought in the country’s four-year war have started to demobilise spontaneously and report to UN officials in Monrovia, a spokesman said. Some 80 children, claiming to be fighters in the war that pitted rebels against government forces, had reported of their own accord to the UN and were being accommodated in the city, said Andy Brooks, regional emergency officer for the childrens’ agency UNICEF. “The number is definitely growing. Some of the children have come from as far as Lofa county,” Liberia’s most northerly province, he told AFP. However the demobilisation process was experiencing difficulties because of the various factions’ refusal to admit the true age of the youngsters, he said. Their denial that there were any soldiers less than 18 years of age was hindering demobilisation and the reintegration of the youngsters into civilian life. Both government and the two main rebel groups, the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), were denying the existence of child soldiers, the official said. Full Story

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