BURUNDI: Newly Demobilized Children Urgently Need Long Term Support

New York, 27 May 2009 – "All children formerly with associated Agathon Rwasa's Forces Nationales de Libération (FNL) have now been formally released in line with the Security Council recommendations. We now need to ensure that they receive long term support for sustainable reintegration into their communities," said Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.

Radhika Coomaraswamy welcomes the long awaited formal release of the last 340 children formerly associated with the FNL as called for in the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement. She commends the key role of the Political Directorate of the Burundi peace process in closing this chapter of its implementation. The children were demobilized under the auspices of the Government of Burundi with the support of UNICEF and the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB). After completing an initial demobilization program, the children received return kits and their families will be given material support over the course of the coming months to facilitate the children's return to community life.

The Special Representative calls on the Government and also upon the generosity of the donor community to develop long term reintegration activities with the support of United Nations for children formerly associated with armed groups in Burundi.

"Child soldiers endure traumatizing experiences and their long term reintegration must remain a priority of the Government. The promise of peace and tangible support will help them to rebuild their lives," concluded Ms. Coomaraswamy.

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For more information:

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