|Children and Armed Conflict|
|Thursday, 17 June 2010 08:50|
My delegation wishes to convey its appreciation to you Mr. President, for convening this debate and for your leadership of the Working Group on this issue. We take note of the Secretary-General’s Report on children and armed conflict which provides useful insight on how we must move forward on this important issue.
Mr. President, following the end of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka last year, the recruitment of children by armed groups has ended. One of the ‘persistent violators’ the LTTE, terrorist group has been de-listed this year from Annex II of the Secretary-General’s Report following their defeat and the consequent end to their abominable practice of child recruitment. The other former armed group the TMVP which entered into an Action Plan with UNICEF and our Government has released children in its custody and entered the democratic process.
Mr. President, throughout the military operation that was conducted by our armed forces to liberate civilians that were held as a human shield by the LTTE terrorist group, our armed forces took care to ensure the safety and security of innocent civilians including children. It was for this reason that the nearly 300,000 civilians fled from the clutches of the LTTE and sought the protection of the armed forces. Since the end of the conflict our Government has provided food, shelter and medical care to these internally displaced persons including children with assistance from the UN and other donor agencies. Special education facilities are provided to the displaced children, nutritional food supplements have also been provided to infants. Displaced children have been re-united with their families. Children who have lost their parents have been entrusted to Government registered child care facilities. UNHCR protection teams and UNICEF officials are given access to ensure the safety and security of children in the IDP villages. As of today 90% of the IDP’s have been resettled and only a few children remain in the IDP villages along with their families. Those who remain have freedom of movement. Demining and the completion of reconstruction work will enable these families to also return to their places of origin very soon.
Mr. President, our Government considers its responsibility for the protection of children and promotion of their welfare as a high priority. It is imperative for the State to ensure that children are not in danger and to prevent them from being used as accessories for violence. As a State Party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the optional Protocols. Sri Lanka provides for the wellbeing of children with free education and free healthcare. We have established a National Child Protection Authority with wide ranging powers to deal with all issues that affect the wellbeing of our children. We also have a separate Ministry which focuses on providing the resources to implement programmes aimed at securing the rights of children.
Mr. President, we condemn in the strongest possible terms rape and other grave sexual violence against children in armed conflict. There should be no place for such grave violations. We must find effective means to ensure all actors abide by these principles. Throughout the conflict in Sri Lanka our disciplined security forces ensured that there were no incidents of this nature.
Mr. President, we urge the Security Council to consider targeted measures against ‘persistent violators’ of the grave violations. The SG’s report highlights that ‘persistent violators’ need to be dealt with in order to enforce our commitment to protect children. The initiatives of the Security Council to address the issue of children in armed conflict and efforts by this Council’s Working Group must be made to focus more on the real underlying issues of recruitment of children. Tangible international action as opposed to mere expressions of concern is needed.
Thank you Mr. President.