Lanka to rehabilitate child soldiers recruited by LTTE
The Sri Lankan government has said it will rehabilitate the child soldiers who were recruited by the Tamil Tigers to reintegrate them into the society.
The announcement comes after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who was on a two-day visit to the island nation, conveyed his concerns to the government about the welfare of child soldiers, following the military victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Sri Lanka and the UN have recognised that a large number of child soldiers forcibly recruited by the LTTE was an important issue in the post-conflict scenario.
"(President (Mahinda) Rajapakse reiterated his firm policy of zero tolerance in relation to child recruitment. In cooperation with the UNICEF, child-friendly procedures have been established for release, surrender and rehabilitation of the child soldiers," the government said in a joint statement at the end of Ban Ki-moon's two-day visit to the island nation Saturday.
“The objective of the rehabilitation process, presently underway, is to reintegrate former child soldiers into society as productive citizens,” the statement said.
"The secretary-general (Ban Ki-moon) expressed satisfaction on the progress already made by the government in cooperation with the UNICEF," it added.
The government said around 10,000 LTTE fighters, including child soldiers, had surrendered to the security forces in the past several months.
During his stay, Ban held talks with Rajapakse, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and other senior leaders.
The UN chief also visited the relief camps for displaced people in northern Vavuniya district and inspected the areas near Mullaittivu, where the government troops and the LTTE fought their final battles.
Sri Lanka's 30-year civil war ended early last week after the defeat of the LTTE.
The LTTE had fought for an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east of the country claiming discrimination at the hands of the majority Sinhalese dominated governments.
More than 100,000 people have been killed since the conflict started in the 1980s.