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Karuna faction recruiting child soldiers in Lanka: UN
T V Sriram in Colombo | January 31, 2008 13:54 IST
A report by the United Nations has said that a renegade outfit of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has continued to recruit children for combat purposes.
"The recruitment and use of children in armed conflict is taking place in more than one dozen countries around the world," UN General Secretary Ban ki-Moon said in a new report, calling for further measures to combat the scourge.
"There have been reports that the Karuna faction (of the LTTE renegade leader Karuna Amman) have abducted and recruited children from Internally Displaced Persons camps in Sri Lanka [Images], while in Congo, children have been recruited from camps in North Kivu Province by forces loyal to rebel leader Laurent Nkunda," he said.
Meanwhile, the LTTE, while blaming the Sri Lankan Army for an attack on a school bus in the rebel-held Madhu in Vavuniya on Monday, told Moon that it had stopped child recruitment.
"Respecting the international norms, the LTTE has entirely eliminated those under the age of 18 from becoming members of our organisation," the outfit's political head B Nadesan said in a letter to the UN secretary general on Wednesday.
The Secretary-General pointed to the close link between child recruitment and internal displacement, noting that the lack of security around refugee and IDP camps and the convenient concentration of vulnerable children make these camps prime recruiting grounds.
In addition, the Secretary-General noteed that "girls, and sometimes boys, are targeted with various forms of sexual and gender-based violence, including rape, during armed conflicts.".
"For example, 60 per cent of cases of sexual and gender-based violence recorded in Kisangani, in the northern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, involved victims between the ages of 11 and 17," Ban Ki-Moon said.
"It is imperative that perpetrators of acts of rape and other sexual violence, which leave a long-term, devastating impact on the victims, are prosecuted in accordance with the gravity of such crimes," Ban said.
Ban says the Security Council should consider a range of measures, including bans on military aid and travel restrictions on leaders, targeting parties to armed conflict who continue to systematically commit grave violations against children.
Earlier, the UN Secretary General, in a statement coinciding with the formal end of the ceasefire agreement between the Sri Lanka government and the LTTE on January 16, had said the only way to stop further violence in Sri Lanka was through dialogue.
He had also urged the parties concerned to undertake genuine efforts to achieve a peaceful negotiated solution.