NEPAL: Immediate release For Some 3000 Children still in Maoist Cantonments

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[NEW YORK, 25 August 2008] – Ms. Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary- General for Children and Armed Conflict calls upon the Nepali Authorities and Maoist army to immediately free all children previously associated with the Maoist forces.

In 2007, the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) and UNICEF identified 2,973 Maoist Army members under 18 years of age on 25 May 2006, in the ranks of the Maoist forces. “Today they are still in the Maoist cantonments and they must be released immediately. UNMIN child protection advisers, UNICEF and its partners should have access to these children to make sure that they receive their rights to recovery and reintegration,” MS. Coomaraswamy said.

The Special Representative reiterated that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement called for the immediate release of all children associated with Maoist forces once they entered the cantonments. No progress has been achieved to date in securing their formal discharge, although many have been released informally.

“The successful elections signal that the people of Nepal are entering a hopeful phase for peace and prosperity. However the promise of peace has not come to fruition for these children, whose lives have been adversely affected by the conflict”, said Ms. Coomaraswamy. She argued that a key element of such a peace is to ensure that children formerly associated with armed forces or groups share the peace dividends and receive suitable support for their reintegration into society.

The Secretary-General’s report on the situation of children and armed conflict in Nepal highlighted the plight of these children and thousands more informally released after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The Security Council Working Group on children and armed conflict will issue its conclusions and recommendations shortly.

Further information

pdf: http://www.un.org/children/conflict/pr/2008-08-25187.html

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