Children in Armed Conflict

Sorry, it has been a while - not because nothing is going on (believe me) just because I've been busy (lazy), I apologize.

I've tried to keep you semi-updated on the political situation in Nepal. The King got the boot - then Nepal had an election and the Maoists won the majority seats in the Constituent Assembly (I don't know how...well, I do, but...you know), then Nepal elected a president and the Maoists got mad and quit...you kind of see how this is going.

The Maoists were officially formed in 1994 - they find it their duty to fight the "people's war" in Nepal. It has been a long and bloody process. Lots of manipulation and force. But they believe that they are doing good and building a better and stronger Nepal for the future.

All of that leads me to this sad means to an end:

[NEW YORK, 25 August 2008] – Ms. Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary- General for Children and Armed Conflict calls upon the Nepali Authorities and Maoist army to immediately free all children previously associated with the Maoist forces.

In 2007, the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) and UNICEF identified 2,973 Maoist Army members under 18 years of age on 25 May 2006, in the ranks of the Maoist forces. “Today they are still in the Maoist cantonments and they must be released immediately. UNMIN child protection advisers, UNICEF and its partners should have access to these children to make sure that they receive their rights to recovery and reintegration,” MS. Coomaraswamy said.

The Special Representative reiterated that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement called for the immediate release of all children associated with Maoist forces once they entered the cantonments. No progress has been achieved to date in securing their formal discharge, although many have been released informally.

“The successful elections signal that the people of Nepal are entering a hopeful phase for peace and prosperity. However the promise of peace has not come to fruition for these children, whose lives have been adversely affected by the conflict”, said Ms. Coomaraswamy. She argued that a key element of such a peace is to ensure that children formerly associated with armed forces or groups share the peace dividends and receive suitable support for their reintegration into society.

The Secretary-General’s report on the situation of children and armed conflict in Nepal highlighted the plight of these children and thousands more informally released after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The Security Council Working Group on children and armed conflict will issue its conclusions and recommendations shortly.

I had a friend over in Nepal that had to go into hiding for a bit because he was being forced by Maoists leaders to join the People's War. It's sad that throughout this time they have also grabbed children and taught them how to manipulate and use a gun to get their way by fear and intimidation.

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