15 December 2008 A senior United Nations official today welcomed recent breakthroughs made in Nepal and the Philippines to release child soldiers.
Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, briefed reporters in New York on her recent visits to the two nations.
Regarding Nepal, she said that she was pleased that Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal had agreed “unequivocally” to start discharging the nearly 3,000 children in cantonments, working together with the UN country team in the Asian nation.
“The first act is to enter into an action plan, and after that into some reintegration policies,” the Representative said, adding that the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) stands ready to assist in the process.
She also visited the Terai region and said children there are being denied many rights. “The line between crime and politics seems to be very thin there,” said Ms. Coomaraswamy, who met with children who were victims of forced displacement and criminal or political violence.
In the Philippines, an agreement was reached with a rebel group known as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to stop recruiting child soldiers and return to civilian life those already in their ranks.
The Special Representative said today that MILF has recently posted a notice on their website regarding their commitment.
The South-East Asian nation’s Government also agreed to send a directive to all local commanders to not recruit anyone under the age of 18, she said. “We will continue to monitor the situation to see how far that goes.”
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