Security Council Working Group On Children And Armed Conflict Examines Reports On Burundi And Myanmar

New York, 7 December 2007– Ms. Coomaraswamy, UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict presented the reports of the Secretary General on the situation of Children and Armed Conflict in Burundi (S/2007/686) and Myanmar (S/2007/666) to the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict yesterday.“The issue of recruitment and use of children continues to be a problem in Myanmar both with regard to the Government and various non-state actors, including the Karen National Union (KNU), the Karen National Progressive Party (KNPP), Wa State Army and the Shan State Army-South, among others”, said the Special Representative. However, she stressed that the work of the Working Group and the mechanism set in place by resolution 1612 (2005) had already led to commitments by some parties to stop this practice. The Government has adopted directives that explicitly prohibit the recruitment of children under 18 and set-up a high level Committee for the Prevention of Military recruitment of Underage Children. The KNU and the KNPP have also signed deeds of commitment that are currently being finalized. Ms. Coomaraswamy raised concerns about the issue of access for UN monitors in Myanmar. “The Government should provide the UN country team with free access to conflict areas and to recruitment centers so that monitoring and reporting can be performed effectively and all the information can be verified”, she said. The Special Representative also highlighted the question of the lack of humanitarian access. “Children are the first to be affected by a humanitarian crisis”, she said, “there is a real urgency for a humanitarian needs assessment in the conflict areas in order to devise proper programmatic responses for the most vulnerable”. Regarding the situation in Burundi, Ms. Coomaraswamy welcomed the positive developments undertaken by the Government pursuant to the previous conclusions and recommendations of the Security Council Working Group. She commented the growing number of security forces convicted for human rights abuses. She also referred to and the release of the vast majority of children in pre-trial detention underlining the necessity to clarify their conditions of release and to ensure proper reintegration of these children into their communities. Ms. Coomaraswamy condemned the new reported cases of recruitment and use of children by the Forces Nationales de Libération (FNL). She criticized the attitude of armed groups that have been recruiting children by promising them demobilization benefits for which they were not eligible. The Special Representative deplored the alarming increase of cases of rape and sexual violence. “The 80% rise in reported cases show that dawning of peace has unfortunately not heralded a more secure environment for women, boys and girls in Burundi”. She was pleased to note that the UN system had begun a series of activities along with the Burundi Government Ministries to address this problem. She called for sustained political will and commitment to fight impunity for such crimes. “These two reports show that the work of the Security Council on the issue of Children and Armed Conflict can produce results. It is therefore important to continue to engage all relevant parties in constructive dialogue and action for the sake of children across the globe”, underscored Ms. Coomaraswamy. The Working Group was established pursuant to Resolution 1612 (2005) in order to promote the protection of children in armed conflict through a monitoring and reporting mechanism, as well as to make appropriate recommendations to the UN system including to the Security Council. # # #For further information, please contact: Laurence Gerard, Liaison Officer, 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.