LTTE ABDUCTED 6241 CHILDREN AND KEEPING 1710 OF THEM SAYS UNICEF
By Walter Jayawardhana
UNITED NATIONS CHILDREN’S FUND SAYS 6241 TAMIL CHILDREN HAVE BEEN ABDUCTED AND BLAMES LTTE FOR RECRUITING 6006 OF THEM FOR WAR AND STILL KEEPING 1710
The United Nation’s Children’s Fund said as of January 2007 they have recorded 6241 child abductions in the Tamil provinces in Sri Lanka and blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for having recruited 6006 of them for war.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also blamed the breakaway Karuna group for abducting 235 out of the recorded 6241.
The UN agency said 1879 children are being still held by both groups out of which 1710 are still being kept by the LTTE while the Karuna group uses 169 of them.
Meanwhile the report said released children and other male youth continue to seek UNICEF’s assistance for special protection in fear of assassination arrests and abduction by the terrorist groups.
The report further said, “The Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (comprising Government, UN agencies and civil society) under UN Security Council Resolution 1612 has compiled its first report on grave violations against children. Resolution 1612, adopted in July 2005, established a monitoring and reporting mechanism on six grave rights violations committed against children, including the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict.”
The report further commented that the unresolved conflict and the dangerously fragile ceasefire agreement between the Government and Liberation of Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) continue to gravely impact the lives of children and women in Sri Lanka and are the most important factors hampering rapid and sustainable development of the economy.
The report said, “While the entire country has suffered from the consequences of the conflict, the eight North East districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya, Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Ampara have borne the brunt of it. Since August 2006, over 200,000 persons have been displaced (including multiple displacements from Trincomalee to Vaharai and in January 2007, to Batticaloa governmentcontrolled areas). Some 600,000 people remain cut-off in Jaffna district. Rehabilitation activities have slowed down significantly because of the worsening security situation. Access to Jaffna by the A9 road has not been possible since August 2006, severely hampering relief efforts. Humanitarian assistance is only possible by UN chartered aircraft. Food and other items are in extreme shortage.”
The report further said, “Outside conflict-affected areas, two separate bus bombs – one on the road to Kandy, the other on the main road to Galle – resulted in the death of over 20 people and injured many others. These incidents may be a major turning point of the conflict with targeting of civilians by LTTE in areas that have not been affected by the conflict for many years. The UN has condemned the incidents and called for the protection of innocent civilians throughout the island.
“There are more than 26,000 displaced students and approximately 1,000 displaced teachers across the North and East. However, given the pervasive violence and stress in the North it is assumed that all children in Jaffna, the Vanni, Vavuniya, Mannar and Vaharai and Muthur zones are acutely affected by the conflict and are directly impacted by both physical threats, access issues and deterioration in the quality of education. This represents more than 250,000 students. Displacement of teachers and students has led to teachers having decreased access to their students; insecurity in key areas has also compounded access issues in some of the most vulnerable communities leading to partial or complete disruption of education. Students in the Vaharai and Muthur zones were unable to attend schools for six months in 2006 because teachers were displaced or unable to access communities.”