19 November 2008: While commemorating the International Children’s Day on 20 November, Informal Sector Service Centre is seriously concerned about the situation of thousands of child soldiers in Maoist camps in the Country.
The United Nations in 2007 revealed that the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) and UNICEF identified 2,973 children under the age of 18 years being involved in various ranks of Maoist Army till 25 May 2006. These children are still in the Maoist cantonments, so, there is a need of transferring them immediately. On the other hand, it is equally important to be cautious towards the risk of those child soldiers being recruited by other armed groups, if they are released from the cantonments.
It was agreed, in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, to immediately release all Child soldiers of the cantonments after verification process of the Maoist combatants but no progress has been achieved, so far, for formal discharge of Child Soldiers from cantonments and to rehabilitate them.
It became evident that the promise of peace has not come into practice, while analyzing the situation of these children, whose lives have been adversely affected by the conflict. Ensuring reintegration of children, formally associated with armed forces, into society would be one of the key steps towards the peace process.
In this context, we urge the government and CPN-Maoist to immediately free all children previously associated with the CPN-Maoist forces and establish a monitoring mechanisms to ensure that they wouldn’t be recruited by other armed groups.