BURUNDI: Long-Awaited Demobilization Of Former Fnl Child Combatants Begins

New York, 9 April 2009 – “The demobilization process of former child combatants associated with the Forces Nationales pour la Liberation (FNL) in Burundi has finally begun,” announced Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.

The Special Representative welcomed the separation of 112 children, including two girls, who were separated from FNL combatants last week in Rubira Assembly Area and in Rugazi. “The children were transferred to the newly rehabilitated Gitega Demobilization Centre where they will receive support to embrace a new life”, said Ms. Coomaraswamy. The process was made possible thanks to joint advocacy efforts by the South African Facilitator, Charles Nqakula and the Facilitation Office, the Political Directorate as well as the United Nations system, including the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB) and UNICEF.

The FNL also committed to facilitate the future separation of another estimated 200 children identified in its ranks in the near future.

The Security Council has repeatedly expressed grave concern regarding delays in the implementation of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement and the failure to formally release children associated with the FNL.

“The Security Council engagement on this issue is bearing fruit. For the sake of the peace process in Burundi, we must ensure that demobilization of former child combatants remains a priority and that they are properly reintegrated into their communities,” 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