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News


SL Ambassador calls for end to use of child soldiers

WASHINGTON, D.C.– As it becomes increasingly clear that the LTTE terrorist organisation continues to force children held hostage in the conflict zone onto the battlefield, the Ambassador for Sri Lanka to the United States, Jaliya Wickramasuriya, Friday called for the end to the manipulation and suffering of children.

“It is alarming that the LTTE terrorists,” said the Ambassador, “continue their blatant pattern of recruiting children to serve their own political agendas. It is an intolerable practice and must be stopped. We are hopeful this new campaign with UNICEF will help end the manipulation and suffering of Sri Lankan children.”

The Ambassador’s comments coincide with the launch of a new media campaign with UNICEF and the Government of Sri Lanka. According to the UNICEF Web site, “Bring back the child” is a multimedia initiative directed towards armed groups, vulnerable communities and affected children. It is made possible by the financial support of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and UNICEF France. From 2003 to the end of 2008, UNICEF has recorded more than 6,000 cases of children recruited by the LTTE.

“The image of Sri Lanka, for far too long,” said Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the launch of the Sri Lanka National Campaign against the Recruitment of Children for Use in Armed Conflict, “has been stained by the presence of child soldiers in our country. But, more important than erasing the stain in our image, is the need to save our children from this special horror of terror, the most savage of the chosen weapons of terror, that has been the menace of our society for nearly three decades.”

In a release (http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/media_48044.html) on Feb. 17, Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF’s Representative in Sri Lanka said, “We have clear indications that the LTTE has intensified forcible recruitment of civilians and that children as young as 14 years old are now being targeted. These children are facing immediate danger and their lives are at great risk. Their recruitment is intolerable. Child soldiers suffer physical abuse, traumatic events and face death. Instead of hope, fear defines their childhood.”