Thursday, June 23, 2011

Child soldiers: Demobilized Chadian child soldiers will need help with re-integration

UN - The top United Nations official concerned with children in armed conflict said Chad would need assistance in re-integrating into society the child soldiers that are being demobilized under an agreement signed with the UN last week.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, reporting on her visit to that country to witness the action plan signed by both parties in N’Djamena, said she was “very happy to have gotten the commitment” from the Chadian Government, but “the children will need help to integrate back into their communities.”

She said all the demobilized children will be registered and the UN intends to follow them to their villages to make sure they arrive, and are not re-conscripted. The UN also plans educational programmes, concentrating on vocational schools to help in the children’s reintegration.

Ms. Coomaraswamy said that more than 1,000 children had been let go by Chadian military units since January, in what her office called a move “representative for the increased commitment of the Chadian Government to protect children in armed conflict.”

At the signature ceremony Ms. Coomaraswamy welcomed the move but added: “While this is an achievement in itself, the bulk of the work lies ahead.”

The complete withdrawal and reintegration of children into their communities will trigger the removal of the Chadian Government from the Secretary-General’s ‘list of shame,’ of governments using child soldiers. The list includes Afghanistan, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Myanmar, Somalia and Sudan.