Friday, February 09, 2007

Uganda endorses children protection

Uganda and 57 other countries signed the Paris Commitments in which they agreed to protect children from being recruited as soldiers.
“We commit ourselves to spare no effort to end the unlawful recruitment and use of children by armed forces or groups in all regions of the world,” French foreign minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, read the declaration at the end of a two-days gathering in Paris. The event was organised by UNICEF and France.
“For the first time, countries are solemnly committing to apply and respect these principles to combat the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts,” a foreign ministry official added.
The 58 countries that signed the pact included 10 of the 12 nations where an estimated 250,000 children carry arms.
They include Burundi, Chad, Colombia, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nepal, Somalia, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Uganda.
The two other countries with child soldiers, Myanmar and the Philippines, did not take part in the conference.
The document put the responsibility squarely on governments to prosecute recruiters or commanders of child soldiers and to seek the unconditional release of all children enrolled in armies or armed groups.
It also singled out the plight of girls abducted to work as wives and domestic slaves for fighting forces and are raped, physically and emotionally abused.
The document noted that they deserved special assistance.
In some armed groups, girls make up 40 percent of the children recruited, according to the United Nations.
The majority of the 250,000 child soldiers worldwide are in Africa and Asia.
Since 2001, almost 95,000 children have taken part in demobilisation programmes, including in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Afghanistan.
Save the Children recently stated that 1,500 Ugandan children, abducted by the LRA, are still held by the rebels. It noted that another 10,000 are still unaccounted for.

Link to New Vision Online : Uganda endorses children protection