Evgeny Lebedev

You have read and understood that there can be hope for these kids

Evening Standard Friday 11 January 2013

Our campaign to rescue child soldiers in Africa has been a huge success, says Evgeny Lebedev

It is all too easy to look the other way when confronted with the issue of African child soldiers. The conflicts they are involved in are thousands of miles from our shores and the disputes themselves are complicated, with no real “goodies” or “baddies” on either side. Some of the children have committed terrible acts of violence.

But while this is all true, there is a far bigger, and more relevant truth: the children are not to blame. They are only kids, some not even in their teens, forced into appalling situations by cynical adults.

Adults who, in a perversion of the moral imperative to protect children from the dangers of the grown-up world, force them to bear the very brunt of that danger.

Many experts told us we would never make a success of a campaign to raise money for Unicef’s work with child soldiers in the Central African Republic. But we felt the mission was so important that we went ahead with it anyway. We knew you, our readers, would understand the justness of the cause.

And what a success it has been. Primarily run through the Evening Standard’s sister newspaper, The Independent, but also through these pages, our campaign has raised more than £180,000 — all thanks to your generous donations.

You have read and understood that there can be hope for these kids. That they deserve to be returned to a childhood marked by school, play and love. That Unicef’s work painstakingly negotiating their release and counselling them to become normal children again is truly worthy.

Although today marks the final day of the campaign, the donation lines stay open until the end of the month. So please keep giving generously.

Thank you.