UN fact-finding team in Jaffna
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 03 April 2007, 22:38 GMT]
A team of four persons representing UNHCR, UNICEF, Sarvothaya, Human Rights Commission (HRC) of Sri Lanka and Child Protection Authority of Sri Lanka arrived in Jaffna Monday on a fact-finding mission with the aim of submitting a special report to the UN Security Councilís Action Committee regarding the deteriorating child rights situation in the Peninsula, civil society sources in Jaffna said.
The four foreign representatives met the Jaffna Government Agent, K. Ganesh, civil society leaders, human rights activists and members of child rights organizations and obtained information from them. They also met the local officials of the UNICEF, UNHCR and HRC working in Jaffna Peninsula.
Among other matters related to child rights the members of the fact-finding mission discussed the following issues:
- Abductions, disappearances and killings of children in the Peninsula,
- Attacks that have taken place in the neighborhood of schools,
- Hindrances to learning faced by students in Jaffna,
- Problems faced by the students whose parents have been abducted, disappeared or killed,
- Restrictions the students face regarding their free movements, and
- Violations of the basic rights of the children.
A civil society leader told media that the representatives were very much concerned about the problems faced by the children from the Sri Lankan armed forces and paramilitaries. They were also were concerned about the several abducted school children whose whereabouts are still not known.
The representatives realized that civilians and civil leaders of Jaffna Peninsula were hesitant to converse with them freely, sources said.
Meanwhile, the civil leaders asked the representatives to open a sub office of UN in Jaffna in order to get first hand information of the real happenings. However, they refused the idea saying that the international agencies involved in the mission already have their branch offices in Jaffna.
The team of Representatives have already visited the Eastern districts of Batticaloa, Amparai and Trincomalee and submitted a separate report on the issue of Karuna groupís recruitment of children.
The team met civil society leaders and government officials, but did not meet the armed forces.