Press Centre 2010/06/01: General Information

UNICEF condemns the recruitment of child soldiers

UNICEF is deeply concerned about recent news reports of children in the ranks of the PKK, the Kurdish group outlawed as a terrorist organization by the international community.

International obligations under the The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child itself, must be respected to ensure children are not caught up in the conflict of adults.

The use of children by armed forces and terrorist groups is a crime. It must stop and any children involved must be released immediately. Children who have been recruited are victims, not perpetrators, and must be treated accordingly. UNICEF stands ready to assist in the demobilization of any such children and to help them recover their childhoods and reintegrate into their communities.

Children forced to put on a uniform and carry a gun suffer psychological and often physical damage, and without assistance may grow to become instigators of violence, including recruiters of child soldiers, as adults. Children and young people have a right to a childhood free from the terrors of armed conflict.

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