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Government and LTTE agree on action plan for children

COLOMBO, 11 April 2003 - The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Government of Sri Lanka, local and international organisations met in Kilinochchi on the 10th and 11th April 2003, to agree on an Action Plan to address the needs and care of children affected by war in the North East. The workshop was jointly inaugurated by Mr. Sutha Thangan, Deputy Head of the LTTE Political Wing and Dr. John Gooneratne, the Deputy Director General of the Secretariat for co-ordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) and was facilitated by UNICEF.

The workshop participants developed the operational aspects of the Action Plan to ensure and restore normalcy to children affected by war, including those children engaged in hazardous labour, street children, underage recruits and children seeking recruitment.

The Action Plan is based on the Guiding Principles of the best interest of the child, of children being with their families and of adopting an integrated approach to programming for the welfare of children. It further spells out the role of civil society in enhancing programme effectiveness and sustainability. The need to recognise cultural diversity and to ensure that all programmes are culturally appropriate was acknowledged. The assurance that all agencies involved in the Action Plan will maintain their neutrality in political, religious or ideological issues was reinforced.

The Action Plan covers the following areas of activity:

· Child rights training - the Action plan includes the provision of child rights training for the LTTE, Government armed forces and communities. The training is intended to commence in late April 2003.

· Awareness campaigns on child rights at community level increasing parental and community awareness of ways they can prevent abuses of child rights.

· A monitoring mechanism administered by UNICEF to monitor the rights of children affected by war in the North East.

· A mechanism for the release and reintegration of underage recruits, and children seeking recruitment, will be redressed through transit centres co-managed by the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) and UNICEF. Local Probation and Child Care Services Officials will have periodic access to the transit centres.

Micro credit facilities and income generation activities - support to vocational training and other skill creation activities through revolving loan funds and micro-credit facilities.

· Vocational training - the development of vocational training opportunities through mobile units, apprenticeships and center-based skills development.

· Education - All vulnerable children most affected by war should have access to learning opportunities through non-formal education and literacy centres. The strengthening of the School Development Societies including awareness among parents and communities was included in the plan.

· Health and nutrition - the provision of essential health care and nutrition services for children affected by war, while they are in the transit centers and other facilities caring for vulnerable children and when they are back in their families and communities.

· Provision of psychosocial care, reinforcement of social work infrastructure and alternative care for children unable to return to families.

Monitoring of the implementation of the Action Plan will be undertaken by a Steering Committee comprising of the TRO and the Department of Probation and Child Care Services, and facilitated by UNICEF. The Steering Committee will provide formal updates on the progress of the Action Plan on a quarterly basis to the Sub-Committee on Immediate Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs (SIHRN).

The Action Plan will be ready for presentation at the next round of peace talks on the 29th of April 2003.

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For more information please contact:

Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Representative (Mobile: 0777 416 733),
or M. Nizar (Mobile: 0777 416 739)

UNICEF: 551331/551332




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