Children support peace, says poll

[TamilNet, Monday, 14 November 2005, 12:21 GMT]
A Children’s Opinion Poll commissioned by the Children As Zones of Peace (‘CZOP’), a collaboration of local and international NGOs and UN Agencies has found that 97 percent of children that are aware of the peace process, see the peace process as good for Sri Lanka, a media release issued by CZOP said Monday.

Full text of the media release follows:

Colombo, 14 November 2005: If they were President, only 3 percent of Sri Lankan children would be in favor of fighting a war. Most children would instead prefer to promote peace and bridge political and ethnic differences, a poll released today has revealed.

The Children’s Opinion Poll commissioned by the Children As Zones of Peace (‘CZOP’), a collaboration of local and international NGOs and UN Agencies (see list of partners below), has found that 97 percent of children that are aware of the peace process, see the peace process as good for Sri Lanka.

The children surveyed identified a number of benefits in the ceasefire, including a reduction in killings; development of the country; and a safer and peaceful environment in which to live.

Said one child who participated in the poll: “If the world gets to see that we are living in peace, that will make us so happy and we can be proud of our country”.

The Sri Lanka-wide survey of 1500 children between the ages of 9 and 16, from different religions, ethnic groups and socio economic classes, was conducted by ACNielsen from February to April 2005. The poll aims, to better understand the views and perceptions of Sri Lankan children on peace and the climate for peace in Sri Lanka, says CZOP Taskforce Team Leader, Dr. James Arputharaj.

“Children represent both the present and the future,” said Dr Arputharaj. “They overwhelmingly support peace and harmony. We have to listen and respect their views.”

The poll also represents hope for a country still emerging from 20 years of civil war. “The children of Sri Lanka support peace,” says Greg Duly, Country Director Save the Children in Sri Lanka, “and that is very good news for the future of this country,”

Children responding to the survey also felt that if the armed conflict was resolved, the money otherwise spent on the war could be utilized to develop schools; help children from different ethnic groups coexist; allow children in the North and East to go back to school; and rebuild schools destroyed by war.

In addition to gauging children’s attitudes towards war and peace in their country, the poll aims to take a vital first step in ensuring children a voice in the peace building process, says UNICEF Representative in Sri Lanka, JoAnna Van Gerpen. “Although child rights are now on the peace process agenda, children are not given the opportunity to effectively participate in the peace process, this Poll should act as a starting point to enable greater representation of children in peace building,” she said.

The Children as Zones of Peace (‘CZOP’) initiative was established to promote and protect the rights of children affected by the armed conflict in Sri Lanka. CZOP firmly believes that children’s views on peace should be listened to by all parties and every effort should be made to bring about a lasting peace for all Sri Lankan children.

For more information or to receive a copy of the report, please contact:
    Dr. James Arputharaj, Lutheran World Relief, 077-3059436, lwr_srilanka@yahoo.com;
  • Ms. Maleec Calyanaratne, Save the Children, 077- 3106 200, maleec@savethechildren.lk;
  • Ms. Leanne Mitchell, UNICEF Sri Lanka, 077- 3166 517, lmitchell@unicef.org.

 

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