BURUNDI: The Special Representative Expresses Concern For The Hundreds Of Children Still In The Hands Of Palipehutu-Fnl Of Agathon Rwasa

New York, 6 May 2008 – The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Coomaraswamy, welcomes the recent release of 232 child soldiers in Burundi. The release is the result of eight months of negotiations involving the government, civil society, UN agencies and other players with a dissident faction of the Palipehutu-National Liberation Front (P-FNL).

However, grave concern remains for the approximately 500 children associated with Palipehutu-FNL of Agathon Rwasa, which has renewed fighting with the Burundian government since mid-April 2008. Ms. Coomaraswamy calls for the immediate release of all children associated with the ranks of Agathon Rwasa’s FNL forces.

“The outbreak of renewed fighting by the P-FNL of Agathon Rwasa proves once again the need to quickly separate all children from fighting forces even before a final peace agreement is signed” stated Ms. Coomaraswamy. The SRSG is seriously troubled with the status of children who remain associated with P-FNL.

In March 2007 the Special Representative visited Burundi in order to ascertain first-hand the situation of children and to follow-up on the recommendations of the Security Council based on the Secretary-General’s report on the situation of children and armed conflict in Burundi, in the framework of Security Council Resolution 1612 (2005).

For more information please contact:

Luca Solimeo, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict – solimeo@un.org – +1 917-367-3563