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Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home Human Rights & Humanitarian Law > Humanitarian Laws of Armed Conflict > Child Soldiers and the Law > Children and Armed Conflict in Sri Lanka: Politics, Human Rights & the Law  > UNICEF and child soldiers: List of Errors  - LTTE Peace Secretariat

Children and Armed Conflict in Sri Lanka:
Politics, Human Rights & the Law

UNICEF and child soldiers - List of Errors
LTTE Peace Secretariat, 1 July 2007

UNICEF and child soldiers

Number of names in the UNICEF June 2006 list -1387
On list, but previously released by LTTE - 54
Number over the age 21- 107
Number over the age 20 - 197
Number over the age of 19 - 247
Number over 18 - 285
Number over 17 - 207
Number under the age of 17 - 293

Children affected by war in the Northeast cry out for help by joining the LTTE. By crying for help, these children are forcing us to deal with their situation. UNICEF has been operating in the Northeast for several decades, and their presence here and their work are well known to the local population. Therefore, one must reflect on the reasons why these children are not going to UNICEF for help and turn instead to the LTTE for refuge. This in spite of the fact that UNICEF has the largest child protection team operating in this island compared to their missions elsewhere in the world. One obvious explanation is that UNICEF does not take on resource intensive responsibilities like that of caring for children at risk. LTTE on the other hand has extensive child welfare programs in the Northeast excelling any available in the rest of the island.

The latest UNICEF list handed to the LTTE in June 2006 has 1387 names. There are several sources of error in the UNICEF list. Firstly, many youths in the list are well above the age of 18. Secondly, of these 1387 names, 53 are known to have been released, although UNICEF has not removed them from their list. In a previous UNICEF list, the LTTE has noticed several triplicates and duplicates and pointed it out to UNICEF. Even the latest UNICEF list has a few duplicate names. LTTE believes that many names in the UNICEF list are outdated. Many names could have entered the UNICEF list, for instance, without the youth ever formally joining the LTTE.

In relation the last type of error in the UNICEF list, we would like to draw attention to the small project LTTE carried out in March 2005 in the Kokkadichcholai area of Batticaloa. Of the 80 odd names from Kokkadichcholai in the UNICEF list, 25 were located living with their parents. That is a minimum 40% error rate.

Bearing in mind the presence of many errors in the UNICEF list one could still study the breakdown of the latest UNICEF list. Given that more than 800 of the youths in the list are now over the age of 18, UNICEF´┐Żs call for the release of these youths is not based on any international human rights standards. It can only be viewed as a desperate attempt to boost the numbers in their list with the view to discredit the LTTE. When viewed against the silence of the UNICEF in the face of horrendous attacks on children by the GoSL operated forces, the above view is further reinforced.


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