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Sri Lanka: UN sends adviser to look at child abuse

UN Special Representative to send adviser to Sri Lanka to look at abuse against children

Warning that the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are continuing to “recruit and use child soldiers” in Sri Lanka and highlighting allegations of “grave violations” against children by all parties in the conflict, the United Nations Special Representative for Children affected by armed conflict said today she was appointing a Special Adviser to undertake a fact-finding mission to the island.

The LTTE militant group “continues to recruit and use child soldiers and the office has also received reports that the Karuna faction has abducted and recruited children under the age of eighteen,” Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN Special Representative said.

“Besides recruitment of child soldiers, there are also allegations of other grave violations against children by all parties to the conflict,” she added, expressing deep concern about the deteriorating situation in Sri Lanka, where separatists and Government forces have been fighting for two decades.

Ms. Coomaraswamy is appointing Ambassador Alan Rock of Canada as Special Advisor to conduct the fact-finding mission, according to a UN news release that added the dates would be finalized in consultation with Sri Lanka’s Government, UN partners and others.

Ambassador Rock has served as the Canadian Ambassador to the UN from 2004 to June 2006. During this period, he was involved in setting up the UN Human Rights Council and the Peacebuilding Commission.

Increasing violence in Sri Lanka has led to repeated calls by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other high-level UN officials for both sides to return to the negotiating table. Yesterday, in response to the killing of four people in a suicide bomb attack, Mr. Annan said that “no cause can justify such acts of violence.”

An attack on a bus on 15 June reportedly killed 62 civilians and injured more than 40 others, including school-aged children, while on 13 May, 13 Tamil civilians were killed on the island of Keyts in Jaffna, including an infant and a young child. There have also been other recent incidents despite a ceasefire agreement of February 2002 aimed at ending the fighting between the Government and separatist forces that has claimed some 60,000 lives.

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