COLOMBO, 11 September 2002 - UNICEF is encouraged by the release of 85 child recruits by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam [LTTE] over the past few weeks.
A detailed list of the children was handed over to the UNICEF Representative in Sri Lanka, Mr. Ted Chaiban, by Mr. S.P. Thamilchelvan, Head of the LTTE's Political Wing, at a meeting held in Kilinochchi on 6th September 2002. Mr. Thamilchelvan told UNICEF that the children had been returned directly into the care of their parents and guardians.
UNICEF staff have interviewed over 20 of the children, confirming that they had indeed been with the LTTE and have now been returned to their families. The agency will continue this process of review and contact all the children on the list and their families.
UNICEF is currently developing an action plan for the social reintegration of these children, including assistance returning to school, access to vocational training, and other activities.
UNICEF and the LTTE have also agreed to work out procedures for monitoring and preventing child recruitment in the future, and the continued release of under-age recruits still reported to be with the LTTE.
UNICEF hopes to see a 'child-recruit free' Sri Lanka, and views this latest development as a positive step, and encourages the LTTE to take further steps to fulfill the rights of children as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
For more information, please contact:
M. Nizar, UNICEF Colombo, 551331 / 551332 Ext. 250;