UN children's advocate to gauge impact of conflict on Guatemalan children

UN children's advocate to gauge impact of conflict on Guatemalan children

Olara Otunnu
The United Nations' key advocate for children affected by armed conflict set out on a four-day visit to Guatemala today to assess first hand the longer-term impact of civil conflict on that country's children.

"Children are routinely overlooked in peace, truth and reconciliation processes," Olara Otunnu, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict said in a statement released on the eve of his visit. "Guatemala will have a much better chance for durable peace if young people are a policy and political priority in that process."

Mr. Otunnu plans to evaluate the steps taken to translate Guatemala's 1996 comprehensive peace settlement into actual protection for children. He will also encourage young people's participation in the peace consolidation process, as well as promote awareness of their needs.

The Special Representative plans to meet with the President of Guatemala, Alfonso Portillo, and senior government officials, as well as religious and community leaders and, of course, young people themselves. He will be accompanied by UN senior staff stationed in the country, including Secretary-General Annan's Special Representative for Guatemala, Gerd Merrem.