Armed groups in Central African Republic (CAR), on Thursday night, released more than 300 enslaved children, as part of a UN brokered deal.
Mohamed Fall, Representative for UNICEF, which helped secure their release, said more than 6,000 children are working as sex slaves or menial workers, such as cooks and messengers for rival militias in CAR.
“The 357 released children freed in the town of Bambari, about 200 kilometres northeast of Bangui, were given medical screenings.
Fall said UNICEF was making all efforts to trace their families and reunite them.
He said leaders of the armed groups, signed a pact last week for their release during a peace forum in Bangui.
The representative said 10 armed groups, also agreed at the weekend to a peace accord, requiring them to disarm and potentially face justice for war crimes.
Fall said all the moves were hailed by the UN as an important step towards peace.
“After two years of heavy fighting, the release of children by these groups, on the same day is a real step towards peace.
Meanwhile, the Interim leader Catherine Samba-Panza, planned elections later this year, with the support of French and UN peacekeeping missions.