Monday, October 12, 2009

Child soldiers: Nepal - fresh start to discharge of former Maoist fighters

The United Nations welcomed today's re-launching of the discharge and rehabilitation process of over 4,000 former Maoist fighters – including child soldiers – in Nepal, with the world body's top envoy to the Asian nation calling it an important step forward in the peace process.

The ex-combatants taking part in the process, a joint effort of the Government and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M), were identified as minors or late recruits during the 2007 verification process.

“By taking part in this overdue discharge exercise, the parties are fulfilling the agreement that they reached,” Karin Landgren, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, said at the launch. “The discharge is an important sign of good faith and sincerity, and of commitment to seeing the peace process through to its conclusion.”

She underscored that “all of you who take part in making this exercise a success are playing an important part in reinforcing Nepal''s peace process.”

A decade-long civil war, claiming some 13,000 lives, ended in 2006 with the signing of a peace accord between the Government and Maoists. After conducting Constituent Assembly elections in May 2008, the nation abolished its 240-year-old monarchy and declared itself a republic.

In her address, Ms. Landgren, who heads the UN special political mission in the country (UNMIN), also stressed the importance of cooperation between different groups to ensure peace and stability in Nepal.

“No parties should retain the idea of a military or authoritarian solution for this country,” she said.

“The only path to durable peace is through negotiation undertaken in a true spirit of compromise and cooperation.”

UNMIN and the UN Country Team said in a statement today that they are encouraged by the establishment of a high-level Steering Committee, led by Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Rakam Chemjong, to oversee the process. The Discharge Technical Committee has already begun its work. Both bodies include representatives from the Government, UCPN-M and the UN.

The Government's plan for the discharge and rehabilitation process includes consulting ineligible personnel on different rehabilitation packages.

“The United Nations stands ready to provide support and assistance for this important programme to ensure successful rehabilitation of the minors and late recruits into Nepali society in line with international standards,” the statement noted.

Source: UN

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