Colombo, 20th June 2002 - Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels assured the United Nations Children's Fund, that it will not recruit anyone under the age of 18 years in their armed forces.
This verbal agreement is in compliance with the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. The Optional Protocol prevents the recruitment of children under age 18 in to armed forces.
Under this common understanding, UNICEF would maintain a central information system of all confirmed cases of under age recruitment for a follow up during regular discussions between UNICEF and the LTTE (Liberation Tamily Tigers Eelam).
The agreement was reached between Mr. Pulithevan of LTTE's Political Wing and Senior Officials of UNICEF. Officials of both organizations met recently in the Wanni, to explore further opportunities to protect the rights of children affected by the armed conflict.
While actively advocating for the prevention of under age recruitment by the LTTE, UNICEF is also engaged in the cases of children who have been already recruited. The organisation's efforts have resulted in successful release of over sixty children from the LTTE. However, much more needs to be done.
For further information, please contact:
Alfred Ironside, UNICEF Media, 212) 326-7261
Jehane Sedky-Lavandero, UNICEF Media, 212) 326-7269