Ban says UN must aid Nepalese Government to reintegrate Maoist child soldiers

Child soldiers who have been officially delisted from the Maoist army in Nepal

23 April 2010 – The United Nations should give the Nepalese Government all necessary aid to rehabilitate some 3,000 demobilized children who fought with the former rebel Maoist army in the country’s decade-long civil war, according to a new report by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The discharge of child soldiers was a key component of an action plan signed in December by the UN, the Government and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M). Altogether 2,973 persons were disqualified from the Maoist army as minors in a UN verification process after a 2006 ceasefire ended the conflict, but they still remained in temporary camps. Their discharge was completed by 8 February.

“I call upon the Government of Nepal and UCPN-M to cooperate closely to ensure the full implementation of the Action Plan,” Mr. Ban says in his report to the Security Council on children and armed conflict in Nepal, noting the significant progress that has been made. “Furthermore, the Government of Nepal should be provided by the United Nations with all necessary assistance for the rehabilitation of the Maoist army personnel disqualified as minors.”

The UCPN-M should ensure that the minors have unhindered access to the rehabilitation packages offered by the Government, and the UN should continue to monitor the party’s compliance with the action plan, with particular attention paid to whether those discharged are forced into association with groups which engage in political violence.

For its part, the Government should ensure adequate resources for the effective reintegration of the discharged minors into society, Mr. Ban writes.

He also stresses that continuing strikes and protests by various groups across the country, in particular in the Tarai region, curtail freedom of movement, restricting children’s right to education. The report calls on political parties and agitating groups to stop the closure and use of schools.

“All political parties and their affiliated youth wings, including related political and social groups, need to ensure that children are not exposed to or forced to participate in violent activities,” he says. “Armed groups should stop all violent activities including the use of improvised explosive devices and small arms, and stop the recruitment and use of children.”

He calls on all armed groups to publicly commit themselves to ending violations of children’s rights, including the recruitment of persons under 18, highlighting the need to strengthen the monitoring and reporting of violations against children in the Tarai, identify responsible armed groups and provide appropriate protection.

Public security remains a matter of serious concern, especially in the Tarai and some hill districts in the east, where many armed groups continue to operate in a climate of impunity, he writes, and he urged the Government to expedite the enactment of a child rights bill to ensure the immediate criminalization of recruitment of children to armed groups and armed forces.

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