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Wednesday, 14 November, 2001, 15:41 GMT
French children urged to disarm
Copyright Medecins du monde
Copyright Medecins du monde
An amnesty has been declared for gun owners in France.

But only for the smallest ones.

Four million children between the ages of seven and 12 have been asked to disarm as a sign of solidarity with children in war zones.

10 years of children in war
2 million children have been killed
6 million have been injured
22 million are refugees
300,000 are child soldiers
The charity Medecins du monde hopes to create a stockpile of plastic guns as children are asked to make a symbolic gesture by giving up one of their toys.

It has organised the project to coincide with World Children's day on 20 November with the aim of raising children's understanding of war and focus attention on the plight of children in war zones.

Cristalle Boulanger from the charity said the aim was not to stop war games altogether. Instead it wants to encourage French children to realise that they are luckier than children who experience war for real.

She said: "This is a strong message for adults... children should try to do something that adults couldn't do in reality - to accept and be aware of the suffering of people and to try to do something about it."

Jane Lutkin, a mother of three who lives in Montpellier, welcomed the initiative.

She said: "What I like about the idea is that it [is] trying to get [children] to understand that war is not a game and asking them to symbolically throw away a toy of theirs."

Lebanese boy
300,000 children are soldiers
In Paris, the toys and drawings will be gathered in the Jardin des plantes behind a mock checkpoint made of sandbags.

The mountain of toys will be transformed into a sculpture which will form a signpost pointing to different conflict zones, including Kabul, Grozny and Sarajevo.

Children who live outside participating towns are being encouraged to disarm "virtually" by dumping a gun on a specially designed website.

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 ON THIS STORY
Cristalle Boulanger Medecins du monde
"This is a strong message for adults"
Jane Lutkin mother in Montpellier
"It's not moralistic"
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