Call For Release Of Children In Maoist Cantonments
Nepal: UN Official Calls For Immediate Release Of Children In Maoist Cantonments
New York, Aug 25 2008 5:10PM
A senior United Nations official today called on Nepal’s authorities and the country’s Maoist forces to immediately free nearly 3,000 children who have still not been formally released from the Maoist cantonments, despite the end of the armed conflict in the Asian nation.
Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, issued a statement stressing that the comprehensive peace agreement which ended Nepal’s conflict called for the immediate release of the children once they entered the cantonments.
Yet although many children have been released informally, there has been no progress in securing their formal discharge, Ms. Coomaraswamy said.
Last year the UN Mission in Nepal and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) identified that there were 2,973 under-age members of the Maoist forces as of May 2006.
“<"http://www.unmin.org.np/">UNMIN child protection advisers, <"http://www.unicef.org/">UNICEF and its partners should have access to these children to make sure that they receive their rights to recovery and reintegration,” the Special Representative said.
Ms. Coomaraswamy added that the recent successful staging of national elections in Nepal indicates that the country is “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.”
She said a key element of the peace is to ensure children associated with armed groups can share in the dividends and receive support for their reintegration into regular society.