LTTE’s break-away group agrees to end child enrollment

December 4th, 2008 - 7:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Dec 4 (IANS) The break-away group of the Tamil Tiger rebels has entered into “an action plan” with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to completely end the enrollment and use of children in armed conflict, an official statement here said.The Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP), led by renegade LTTE eastern commander Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan, well-known as Karuna Amman, has also agreed in writing to free an unknown number of children currently with the group.

“The government of Sri Lanka, the TMVP, and the UNICEF signed an Action Plan on Monday to ensure that the recruitment and use of children by the TMVP comes to an end, and that all children currently with the TMVP are released and provided with reintegration assistance,” a joint press release by both Colombo and the UNICEF said Thursday.

According to the statement, the action plan, which gives “a clear timetable of required actions by the signatories over the next three months”, has been signed by TMVP leader Karuna Aman, UNICEF country representative Philippe Duamelle, and Sri Lanka’s Commissioner General for Rehabilitation Suhada Gamalath.

Although the tripartite action plan was signed Monday, it is not immediately clear why the joint statement in this regard was issued Thursday.

“This agreement shows a clear political commitment and is a very important step in putting an end to the recruitment and use of children by the TMVP,” Philippe Duamelle has said, highlighting the need to “translate” the action plan “into concrete actions on the ground”.

Sri Lanka’s Commissioner General for Rehabilitation has said that the signing of the action plan “clearly states the commitment of the three parties to efficiently tackle the issue of the use and recruitment of children, which is against Sri Lankan and international law”.

The UNICEF entered into a similar agreement with the LTTE when the February 2002 Norwegian-brokered truce pact was in full force and got a good number of children released and rehabilitated.

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