Sri Lanka- Karuna Commits To Work With The UN To Prevent Recruitment And Use Of Children

On Monday 4th December 2006, Colonel Karuna a.k.a V.Muralidharan, leader of the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) in Sri Lanka contacted the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict regarding the listing of his group (Karuna faction-TMVP) in Annex 2 of the latest report of the Secretary General to the Security Council on children and armed conflict.

During the conversation, Colonel Karuna denied engaging in such a practice. However, he said he will collaborate with UNICEF to ensure that children are protected. He confirmed that he would take the following actions which will be formalized in an action plan negotiated between Karuna's group(TMVP) and UNICEF:

1) Re-issuing a policy statement to inform all the commanders of the Karuna faction in the field that using and recruiting children is not an acceptable practice.

2) Training all commanders in the field on child's rights with all necessary assistance from the International Community.

3) Releasing children who may be found among Karuna ranks to their families, in collaboration with relevant NGOs and/or UNICEF

4) Giving free access to the Karuna camps for UNICEF monitors to ensure that no children remain associated with the armed group.

The Special Representative, Radhika Coomaraswamy welcomes Colonel Karuna's statement. "This is a major step forward that will help to prevent children from being used by armed groups in Sri Lanka. I hope that this will lead to effective actions on the ground", she said. The Office of the Special Representative hopes to receive a similar commitment from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) granting access for independent verification to their camps in the near future.

The annual report of the Secretary General to the Security Council Children and Armed Conflict includes 2 annexes listing parties and armed groups who recruit and use children. The latest report (A/61/529-S/2006/826) was presented to the Security Council on November 28th 2006. Both Karuna faction and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were listed.

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For further information, please contact:

Laurence Gerard, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, United Nations, New York. Telephone: 1 212 963 0984.

E-mail: gerardl@un.org. www.un.org/children/conflict