How to Save Children in Armed Conflicts?
NEPAL – Minors to be discharged from Maoist cantonments
Kathmandu, 5 December 2008 – The Prime Minister of Nepal Mr. Pushpa Kamal
Dahal today agreed to move forward on the discharge of nearly 3,000 Maoist army elements disqualified as minors remaining in Maoist army cantonments, in cooperation with UNMIN and the UN Country Team in Nepal. This was announced by Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, during her press conference, which concluded her six-day visit to the country.
The commitment of the Government is in line with the Comprehensive PeaceAgreement and responds to Security Council recommendations within theframework of Resolution 1612 on the issue of children and armed conflict.
All children should have been released immediately after the signing of the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2006. During her visit, Ms. Coomaraswamy
interacted with children in a cantonment site.
“The UN country team stands ready to support former CPN-M child combatants
to resume civilian life as they look to their future in a new peaceful
Nepal,” said the Special Representative, referring to the reintegration
packages developed by UNICEF and UNDP which would be
- tailored to the children’s needs, skills and long-term aspirations,
- in collaboration with civil society and
- in compliance with international standards and guidelines including the Paris Principles.
Ms. Coomaraswamy also welcomed the readiness of the Government to address
and prevent the misuse of children for political purposes, particularly
their use in political violence. Both the CPN-M and the UML told the
Special Representative that they were beginning discussions on how to work
together to deal with the problem of political violence by youth wings.
The Special Representative also raised concerns regarding the impact of the
continuing unrest on children in the Terai.
- Armed groups and
- criminal gangs act with total impunity in parts of this region.
Ms. Coomaraswamy said that during her visit she met with children who had been forced to flee the ongoing violence, and had become displaced as a result. Other children had run away from their homes, fearing recruitment by armed groups. They were also afraid of threats against their families if they refused to join. “Do not forget the children of the Terai,” one schoolgirl in Biratnagar told the Special Representative.
“Impunity for violence must stop and the rule of law must return to Nepal
for peace to be given a chance and for children to live in security,”
stated Ms. Coomaraswamy. She said that the commitment of Prime Minister
Dahal to address the case of Maina Sunuwar as a priority is a symbolic step
forward. Maina Sunuwar, a fifteen year-old girl, was tortured and killed in
February 2004 while in custody of the Nepalese Army.
Ms. Coomaraswamy also discussed the issue of transitional justice,
including the need for provisions that provide justice for child victims, and to incorporate child friendly procedures and ensure their participation in the peace process.
“The protection and the needs of all the children affected by the conflict
should be an integral part of Government policies at national, regional and
community level,” said Mrs. Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative for
Nepal, who was also attending the press conference. She welcomed the drafting of the Child Rights Bill, which addresses the use of children associated with armed forces and armed groups. UNICEF advocates for the participation of children in the development of the new constitution through the creation of a Children’s Forum in the Constituent Assembly.
“Children are eager to play a key role in the creation of a new peaceful Nepal. The United Nations and the Government of Nepal are committed to supporting them in shaping their future free of violence,” concluded Ms. Coomaraswamy.
The Special Representative undertook her visit to Nepal in follow-up to the
recommendations of the Security Council on the situation of children in
Nepal within the framework of Security Council resolution 1612 (2005). The
visit was organized the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) in
collaboration with the UN Country team including UNICEF, UNDP, and the
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
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For further information, please contact:
Ms. Laurence Gérard, Communications Officer, Office of the
Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed
Conflict. Phone: +1 347-967-8606- firstname.lastname@example.org –
Kosmos Biswokarma, Senior Media Officer, United Nations
Mission in Nepal (UNMIN)
Phone: +977-1-5010036, Ext: 2235, Mobile tel.: +977-98511 01959 –
John Brittain, Chief, Communication United Nations for
Children’s Funds (UNICEF) Phone :
+977 – 1 5523 200 Ext. 1179 – Jbrittain@unicef.org – cell: +977- 98519
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