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Child Soldiers in Sudan and Myanmar, No UN Comment on Sri Lanka, LRA on Move

[Inner City Press, Saturday, 28 November 2009 10:40 No Comment]

In South Sudan, both local officials and humanitarian groups are calling for the UN Mission in Sudan to do more to protect civilians from the Lord’s Resistance Army, UN child soldier expert Radhika Coomaraswamy told the Press on November 25. She also acknowledged that the government of Myanmar continues to recruit child into its "vast" army, while declining to comment on children and armed conflict issues in her native Sri Lanka.

While in Sudan, Ms. Coomaraswamy met with the governor of Western Equatoria after she met with humanitarian groups. The latter urged that UNMIS do more to protect civilians, and that the Security Council strengthen the Mission’s mandate if that is the only way to make UNMIS take these actions. The governor echoed these concerns.

After her briefing, Inner City Press asked Ms. Coomaraswamy whether the governor or the NGOs raised this concern firm. She replied that the NGOs raised it to her, so she asked the governor.

Inner City Press asked about reports that the LRA is moving into South Darfur. Ms. Coomaraswamy said that the LRA is said to be "moving up the Central African Republic" to the border with South Darfur. Video here, from Minute 35:43. Since Ms. Coomaraswamy’s November 25 briefing, the Justice and Equality Movement rebels have fired back, saying she did not visit their camps, click here for that.

Later in the briefing, on non-Sudan questions, Inner City Press asked about the Than Shwe government’s continued recruitment of child soldiers in Myanmar, and about the just announced moves on internally displaced persons including children in Sri Lanka’s internment camps.

Ms. Coomaraswamy replied, in a seeming partial defense of Myanmar, that the recruitment takes places at the "regional" level — every place is in a region, isn’t it? — and that if the UN gets an action plan with the military junta, it will be allowed to verify. We’ll see.

On Sri Lanka, on which Inner City Press posed questions to Ms. Coomaraswamy as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, she replied that she has appointed Patrick Cammaert to go there from December 5 to 11, that he will hold a press briefing after that and answer all Sri Lanka questions. Video here, from Minute 46:57.

[Full Coverage]

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