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2007.02.07
* UNICEF: Liberating Liberia's war generation Brutal marks of war and neglect are stark in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, but unseen is the damage to an entire generation. Not just once but twice Sunday fought in Liberia’s civil war. First when he was 12; drugged up and fooled into thinking war was fun, he fought for the rebels. Then when he was 17, he fought on the side of government forces. Now Sunny is planting seeds, but his scars and his memories of being exploited will always be with him: SOT: (English), Sunny (Not his real name), Aged 20 “At which time I was a little boy I was used to being told ‘go and do this and I go and do it, go and get me this, and I go and do it. I was with a general and anywhere I go I went with him he called me a walking stick, that’s the name he gave me because anywhere he goes I followed him, anything he wanted me to do, I did.” He is one of more 11 000 Liberian youngsters directly involved in the15 year conflict. Today it’s drama of a different kind. They’re learning Shakespeare, being counseled and coming to terms with their past. At this resource centre supported by UNICEF and ECHO the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department, young Liberians are beginning to pick up the pieces of their lost childhood. SOT: (English), Corinna Kreidler, ECHO Field Expert “They don’t have any skills or very few those few they learnt for those who did training courses, their education is relatively low. And also their tolerance to accept frustrations and to resolve problems through peaceful means is also limited because that’s not what they learnt because they learnt that if they have a weapon, if they are the boss man, they are the strong men, they can just impose their will on other people. And of course in Liberia 2007 things don’t work that way anymore. Help from outside has laid a firm foundation, but Liberians themselves have had to make it happen. Daniel Swaray has seen how work and play can rehabilitate former combatants. SOT: (English), Daniel Swaray, Sustainable Development Promoters (Ganta) "The growing stage of a child is very important. Play is one very important aspect of a growth of a child and if you lack play, you lack a childhood and when they came to us they didn’t even know what play was. Most of the trainees we have there were fighting for opposing forces but now they are playing together eating out of the same bowl.” In the wake of the recent elections, all the signs are looking good for the county. Bright-eyed children are back at school, new construction abounds. But Liberia’s new government sees children as it’s most valuable asset. Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf “The government will protect the children first of all ensuring that they have the means to have an education and carrying out of the rule of law and ensuring any action against them will be dealt with by our laws. And particularly for our girl who have been subjected to rape.” (question from Sarah Crowe, UNICEF) What
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