SRI LANKA: Children Caught On The Front Lines

New York, 12 May 2009- The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, is horrified at the deteriorating crisis in Sri Lanka and its serious toll on children. "The current situation is dreadful and cannot continue. Children should not be held hostage, recruited as child soldiers and put in harm's way", she emphasized.

"All the children should immediately be released by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and placed in a protected area with their primary care givers, away from the fighting," stated Radhika Coomaraswamy.

Too many children have died or been injured. Those who managed to flee live in camps set up by the Government of Sri Lanka that do not meet international standards.

The Government and LTTE should refrain from using artillery and observe military forbearance. They should allow humanitarian workers to negotiate safe passage for the remaining civilians, including children.

The Special Representative is negotiating with the Government to allow a Special Envoy to visit Sri Lanka to assess the situation of children first hand.

For further information, please contact:

Laurence Gérard – Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict – +1212-963-0984 – gerardl@un.org