Chance for Change – Ending the recruitment and use of child soldiers in Myanmar

(London) January 28, 2013 —

Despite moves towards political reform, children continue to be recruited and used as soldiers by armed forces and armed groups in Myanmar, a report published by Child Soldiers International says.

Chance for Change – Ending the recruitment and use of child soldiers in Myanmar,’ shows that nearly a decade since international engagement on the issue first began and despite the signing of a Joint Action Plan to end the recruitment and use of children between the Myanmar government and the UN in June 2012, children continue to be present in the ranks of theTatmadaw Kyi (Myanmar army) and the Border Guard Forces (BGFs) which function under the command of Tatmadaw Kyi and armed opposition groups.

Initial steps to implement the Joint Action Plan have led to the release of 42 children from theTatmadaw Kyi, with other releases expected. However, measures to prevent future recruitment of children have not yet been implemented and there are no programs yet to verify the presence of children in the Border Guard Forces (BGFs).

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Situation of children and adolescents involved in the armed conflict in Colombia

On every February 12, for the last nine years, Red Hand Day has been commemorated as a way of openly rejecting all practices related to the recruitment, involvement and use of minors in armed conflicts

Recruitment, involvement and use of children and adolescents in armed conflicts, as well as other forms of violence, are crimes against one of the most vulnerable sections of the population: boys, girls and adolescents.

Despite the seriousness of these crimes against a section of society protected by international humanitarian and human rights law, this issue is still unknown to ample sectors of world population. Only relatively recently have states began paying attention to this issue which affects minors regardless of their age, gender or nationality.

The region of Latin America has not escaped this reality, hosting one of the world’s longest conflicts: the Colombian armed conflict. This conflict has spilled over its national borders affecting neighbouring countries, as evidenced by reoccurring patterns of violence – including murders, massacres, kidnappings, threats to civilians, forced displacement and the presence of armed groups involved in the conflict that has plagued Colombia for over 50 years.

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UN: Sri Lanka should allow children to return home

AFP reports Retired Major General Patrick Cammaert, the UN special envoy on children and armed conflict, said children who had been conscripted by the Tamil Tiger rebels should be allowed to return to their families.

“Hundreds of children are still missing or separated from their parents. They must be reunited as soon as possible,” the Dutch UN official said during a visit to Sri Lanka.

Cammaert is in Sri Lanka on behalf of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy.

The six-day mission, at the invitation of the Government, is aimed at following up on the recommendations of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict on Sri Lanka within the framework of Security Council Resolution 1612 from 2005.

Mr. Cammaert will ascertain firsthand the situation of the children affected by the recent conflict with a view to ensure greater child protection. Particular attention will be paid to the situation of displaced children and the reintegration of children formerly associated with armed groups into civilian life.

He will meet with Government officials, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society representatives and children, and report to the Security Council Working Group when he returns.

Conflict in Colombia knows no borders

On Universal Children’s Day, November 20, Jesuit Refugee Service expresses extreme concern about the continuing widespread, systematic and habitual use, recruitment, and exploitation of children in the Colombian armed conflict.

Although the exact magnitude and geographical extension of child recruitment is unknown, as many as 11,000 Colombian children are deployed either as combatants, or in support roles, in the war. Being forcibly compelled to risk one’s life and/or commit atrocious acts while being exposed to physical illnesses and injuries, sexual violence and torture, can only be described as inhumane. This recruitment and use of children by illegal armed groups is a crime against humanity, according to the JRS Latin America and Caribbean regional office.

(Listen to a radio interview here.)
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Child Soldiers Coalition calls for UN to investigate abductions of children in Sri Lanka

Press statement issued by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers:

Sri Lanka: Child Soldiers Coalition calls for UN Special Envoy to urgently investigate abductions and other abuses of children

London, 20 May 2009

Children (under-18s) are being abducted from refugee camps and from Vavuniya town in northern Sri Lanka by paramilitary groups who enjoy tacit support from the Sri Lankan government, the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers said today.

The Coalition welcomed the recent initiative by the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) on children and armed conflict to send a special envoy to Sri Lanka to investigate these and other abuses against children. The Sri Lankan government is reported to have agreed in principle to such a visit.

“The last phase of fighting in Sri Lanka has had a catastrophic impact on children. The special envoy’s visit needs to take place without delay,” said Victoria Forbes Adam, Director of the Coalition. The envoy must be given all necessary support to carry out an independent assessment of the situation to identify measures needed to protect children from abuses. The special envoy also needs to investigate the impact of the broader humanitarian disaster on children. The findings of the special envoy should be formally submitted to the Security Council, the Coalition said.
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Long Struggle for Peace in Colombia

Mauricio García, S.J., executive director of Cinep, the Jesuit Center for Research and Education in Bogotá, sits down with America magazine to discuss the effects of the internal displacement of three million people over the last 25 years.

Father García has a longstanding involvment in peace-related work. “During the 1990s, while I was in my formation program as a Jesuit seminarian, I was investigating human rights violations in Colombia,” he said. “Eventually, though, I wanted to move beyond ‘counting dead people’, so to speak.” His superiors sent him to work at Cinep in Bogota. “I began to focus on wider issues, like peace negotiations…addressing the ongoing violence, and in time I went to England for four years to do a Ph.D. in peace studies at the University of Bradford,” said García. He wrote his dissertation on the peace movement in Colombia. “Over the last decades,” he noted, “it has become one of the largest mobilizations for peace in the world, with millions mobilizing for it.”

Read the article in America here.