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UNICEF, Sri Lanka rebels agree to develop plan to help war-affected children

UNICEF, Sri Lanka rebels agree to develop plan to help war-affected children

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) today agreed to develop an action plan on war-affected children and child labour in northeastern Sri Lanka.

"Our commitment to all children affected by war and not to recruit children has been firm and remains firm," said Mr. Tamilselvan, the head of the group's Political Section. "The LTTE has informed all military commanders and Heads of Political Sections, in writing, regarding the policy not to recruit children under 18 years of age."

During a meeting held today in Kilinochchi between UNICEF Representative Ted Chaiban and Mr. Tamilselvan, it was agreed that the LTTE would present a draft action plan to the UN agency 10 March.

"I am encouraged by the positive decisions reached at this meeting," said Mr. Chaiban. "This is an important step forward for all children."

A review of the technical and operational aspects of the draft action plan by a working group of the LTTE, Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) and UNICEF will follow four days after the text is presented. To finalize this plan, a workshop with the parties and government representatives will be held at the end of this month.

There are also plans to hold district-level workshops to map out implementation in each area and provide child rights training for members of the LTTE and the heads of the local political sections.

In addition, it was agreed that transit centres for children affected by war will be temporary and in the best interests of the child. These centres, aimed at assessing children in order to make appropriate plans for their future, will be co-managed by international and national agencies including TRO and UNICEF.