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Home > News > PTI

LTTE rebels still recruit minors for war: UN

December 29, 2007 17:05 IST

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Coverage: The War in Lanka

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam continues to recruit minor children to fight against the Sri Lankan government despite an earlier United Nations appeal, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a new report.

The 20-page report on the island nation covering the period from November 2006 to September 2007, notes that 'both parties have failed to cease the abduction, recruitment and use of children.'

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the TMVP/Karuna faction, which split from the Tamil Tigers and now supports government troops, have also failed to 'release all children associated with their forces and engage in transparent procedures for release and verification,' which includes allowing the UN Task Force on monitoring and reporting full access to military locations under their control, Ban said in the report released on Friday.

Some 262 children were recruited by the LTTE, including 32 who were re-recruited, between November 2006 and August 2007, according to reports received by UNICEF.

This represents a significant decrease as compared to the previous 12-month period, when 756 children were reportedly recruited, including 97 who were re-recruited, by the LTTE to fight against the government.

Despite some advances in dialogue between UNICEF and the LTTE's so-called Child Protection Authority which deals with child recruitment issues, the world body said there have been several hurdles, such as the LTTE's insistence that only children who were 17 years old as on January 1, 1990, would be released.

This is in disregard of both international and national legal standards which state that 18 years is the minimum age of recruitment. Meanwhile, the number of children recruited by the TMVP/Karuna faction rose to 207 between November 2006 and August 2007 from 193 in the previous-12 month period, UNICEF said.

"Despite initial engagement on an action plan, the TMVP/Karuna faction demonstrated bad faith on a number of occasions, including leading the UN to a falsified training camp in Batticaloa and re-recruiting children within days of releasing them in the presence of UNICEF," the report stated.

"As of September, 2007, the TMVP/Karuna faction has not demonstrated a full commitment to stop recruiting children and has not released all children within their ranks," it added.
Ban applauded the Sri Lankan government's creation in April 2007 of a special task force on children and armed conflict, and called on authorities to take measures to prevent armed groups' abduction and recruitment of children as soldiers and to secure the release of current child soldiers.

He urged all sides to abide by the recommendations of his previous report, in which he appealed for peace and for the cessation of the recruitment of children as soldiers. It had also asked all parties to recognize and commit to maintaining the neutrality and security of schools, hospitals and religious institutions as 'safe zones' in conflict-affected areas."

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