Top UN official calls for swift and orderly release of child soldiers in Nepal

13 October 2009
Cantonment in Surkhet, Nepal, provides temporary shelter for People's Liberation Army (Maoist combatants)

A senior United Nations official appealed today for the swift and orderly release of nearly 3,000 Nepalese minors who served as Maoist army personnel in the country’s civil war and yet remain in temporary camps, three years after a peace deal ended the conflict.

“These children have a right to start their lives anew and help to build a peaceful and prosperous Nepal,” said Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, according to a press release issued by her office.

Ms. Coomaraswamy also welcomed the re-launch of the discharge and rehabilitation process of over 4,000 former Maoist fighters – including the child soldiers – in Nepal.

“The United Nations and its partners stand ready to provide support and assistance for their successful rehabilitation into Nepali society.”

The UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), established in 2007 as a special political mission tasked with helping advance the peace process, has been extended through January 2010 to assist in the management of arms and army personnel contained in the cantonments.

The 2006 peace agreement ending the civil war led to the establishment of cantonments, or army camps, to provide temporary shelter for Maoist ex-combatants in several localities across Nepal.

Following earlier conversations with the Prime Minster of Nepal and the Chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal - Maoist (UCPN-M), the Special Representative welcomed the re-launching of the rehabilitation process and noted that Chairman Prachanda of the UCPN-M has given her assurances that the orderly discharge would proceed immediately.

She called on all parties to ensure that the process proceeds smoothly and is completed at the earliest in compliance with international standards.

“I look forward to visiting Nepal in the coming weeks to witness for myself the discharge of these minors,” stated Ms. Coomaraswamy.

The commitment of the Government of Nepal and the UCPN-M to move forward on the issue of discharge of minors is in line with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and Security Council resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005) as well as the Council’s recommendations on Children and Armed Conflict.


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