During the 10 years of civil war in Sierra Leone, West Africa, thousands of children were abducted by the revolutionary army and forced to become soldiers and vicious killers. In 1999, seven thousand of these children were released. This program documents Freetown, a city that accepted these children, and the return of 3 children to their homes.
Returning to family is difficult. Most of the country was destroyed and it was difficult for the children to locate their former homes. While on the "search for family" with a social worker, one boy stopped at the site where he murdered civilians during the civil war and talked about the situation and his feelings at the time. The happiness of his reunion with family and friends is short-lived. It is a new beginning but there is fear and anxiety about the future.
Jury Comments
The jury considered "Return to Freetown," worthy of the UNICEF prize for the way it dealt with the devastating effects of war on children. Without the humanity and integrity of the reporter, and the danger in which the production team put itself, this program would not be informative and persuasive as it conveyed the reality of the tragic circumstances of children in war. The producer's unshakable consciousness of this issue, the strong message, and moving narration made this a clear winner.