The UN on Tuesday expressed its “gravest concern” for Sri Lankan children, saying a growing number of them were being recruited by the Tamil Tigers while scores were being killed or injured in fighting.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it has “clear indications” that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had stepped up forcible recruitment of children and “as young as 14”. “These children are facing immediate danger and their lives are at great risk. Their recruitment is intolerable,” Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF’s representative in Sri Lanka, said.
Claiming it had recorded over 6,000 cases of child recruitment by the LTTE between 2003 and 2008, the UNICEF said that it was “extremely alarmed at the high number of children being injured in the fighting” in Wanni.
LTTE hit back
Meanwhile, the Tamil Tiger rebels lashed out at the United Nations after it accused them of shooting civilians who try to escape the island.
The UN said the Tigers have detained tens of thousands of non-combatants inside rebel-held territory and have “shot and sometimes killed” those crossing the battle lines to seek safety.