Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: UNICEF moots plans for war affected children

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The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and UNICEF will develop an Action Plan to restore normality in the lives of children of North and East affected by the armed conflict, UNICEF announced yesterday.
The Action Plan will address issues relating to child labour, including under-age recruitment as child soldiers.

This process was set in motion following the Oslo Peace Talks in December 2002.

This follows discussions last week between Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Representative in Sri Lanka and the Head of the LTTE's Political Section S.P. Thamilchelvam and LTTE representatives Sutha Thangan and Puleethevan. UNICEF said the meetings were "constructive and positive".

Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF who will be in Sri Lanka from January 30 to February 1 will meet Thamilselvan in Kilinochchi to discuss the problems of children affected by armed conflict and underage recruitment in particular.

While in Killinochchi, Ms. Bellamy will also oversee the Every Child in School Program. Through this programme, UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Education Society, TRO and other NGOs helped to reintegrate nearly 20,000 children back in school in the Vanni.

She will also observe UNICEF supported mine risk education activities in schools and provision of prosthesis and psychosocial support to landmine survivors.

Bellamy's visit, is also sequel to increased UN presence in the country and a precursor to the scheduled arrival of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan next month.

She will call on the President, the Prime Minister, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Human Resource Development, Education and Cultural Affairs, Health and Social Welfare as well as LTTE leaders in Vanni and Jaffna and Government officials during her three day stay.

Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR) has sponsored and provided leadership towards organising a workshop in Kilinochchi to determine the plight of over 60,000 refugees in Tamil Nadu.

Following the workshop, a decision has been made to relocate these refugees in their original homes with the co-ordination of the UNHCR and relevant agencies.