Burundi UN advocate for children welcomes rebels release of child soldiers

The separation of 112 children, including two girls, by the Forces Nationales pour la Liberation (FNL) shows that the demobilization process of children associated with the rebel group has “finally begun,” Radhika Coomaraswamy said in a press release.The children have been transferred to the Gitega Demobilization Centre, “where they will receive support to embrace a new life,” she said.The process was facilitated thanks to joint efforts by the UN Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and other partners.The FNL has also committed to released 200 more children from its ranks in the near future.The Security Council has repeatedly voiced its concerns over delays in implementing the 2006 Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement signed between the Government and the FNL, the last major rebel hold-out group in Burundi, which is rebuilding after a brutal civil war between the Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority.“For the sake of the peace process in Burundi, we must ensure that demobilization of former child combatants remains a priority and that they are properly reintegrated into their communities,” Ms. Coomaraswamy emphasized. 9 April 2009The Secretary-General’s Special Representative on children and armed conflict today welcomed the release of over 100 child soldiers by a key rebel group in Burundi, a move which will allow them the chance to rebuild their lives. read more