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Sri Lanka: rebels asked to end child soldier drive

UNICEF Calls For Sri Lanka’s Rebels To End Recruitment Of Child Soldiers

Confirming the deaths of two child soldiers last week during fighting between two factions of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka, the United Nations Children’s Fund has called on the rebel group to free its remaining child soldiers and not to re-recruit those it has already released.

In a statement released Friday, UNICEF said the victims, both girls, were aged 17 and 18. They were killed during fighting in Sri Lanka’s east between the LTTE and a breakaway group.

UNICEF’s Representative in Sri Lanka, Ted Chaiban, said the recruitment and use of child soldiers cannot be tolerated.

“Children should never be recruited or accepted voluntarily into military organizations. Even now in a time of relative peace in Sri Lanka, children have been sent to the front lines and died there,” he said.

UNICEF has been working to facilitate the release of hundreds of child soldiers from the ranks of the LTTE. Last Tuesday the LTTE formally released 209 children, who were assisted in returning to their families by UNICEF. Another 50 returned of their own accord.

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