LTTE intensifies forcible child recruitment: UNICEF

February 17th, 2009 - 6:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Feb 17 (IANS) The UN Tuesday expressed its “gravest concern” for Sri Lankan children, saying a growing number of them were being recruited by the Tamil Tigers while scores were being killed or injured in fighting.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it has “clear indications” that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had stepped up forcible recruitment of children and “as young as 14″.

“These children are facing immediate danger and their lives are at great risk. Their recruitment is intolerable,” Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF’s representative in Sri Lanka, said in a statement.

Claiming it had recorded over 6,000 cases of child recruitment by the LTTE between 2003 and 2008, the UNICEF said that it was “extremely alarmed at the high number of children being injured in the fighting” in Sri Lanka’s Wanni region.

“Children are victims of this conflict by being killed, injured, recruited, displaced, separated and denied their every day needs due to the fighting,” Duamelle said, adding that the main injuries to children have been burns, fractures, shrapnel injuries and bullet wounds.

Pointing out that child soldiers suffer physical abuse, traumatic events and face death, Duamelle said that scores of injured children had been evacuated in the past week from the war zone.

“UNICEF reiterates the call it has made time and again to the government and the LTTE that civilians, especially children, must be given every protection from the fighting,” the statement said.

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