Widen focus beyond child soldiers to humanitarian issues, Rock tells UN

[TamilNet, Sunday, 03 December 2006, 03:47 GMT]
In the wake of his visit to Sri Lanka in November, the Special Envoy of the UN Under Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflicts, Ambassador Allan Rock, has recommended that the United Nations widen its focus from only recruitment and use of child soldiers at present to include the killing of children and the denial of humanitarian access for children. As part of his visit, Ambassador Rock observed the situation facing children in areas under embargo by the Sri Lankan security forces.

Allan Rock
United Nations (UN) advisor on children and armed conflicts, Allan Rock, addresses journalists during a press conference in Colombo. (AFP)
The Sunday Times this week published extracts from Mr. Rock’s report to the UN.

It states that his mission in Sri Lanka discovered there was strong and “credible evidence” that the security forces were supporting and sometimes participating in the abductions and forced recruitment of children by the Karuna Group paramilitaries.

Mr. Rock is said to cite eyewitnesses and families of abducted children along with other sources of evidence to support his findings.

According to the Sunday Time, Ambassador Rock also states in his report that:

“I recommend that the Security Council expanding its focus and give equal care and attention to children affected by armed conflict in all situations of concern; and to give equal weight to all categories of grave violations beyond the recruitment and use of child soldiers to include the killing and maiming of children, rape and other grave sexual violence, abductions, attacks against schools or hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access for children.”

As part of his visit, Ambassador Rock visited the Vaharai region where he visited an internally displaced camp which Sri Lankan forces had shelled, killing and wounding dozens of people, including children.

The region is under a strict embargo by government forces, with starvation on the verge of setting in amid severe shortages of food and medicine.

Last week, amid intense international pressure, Sri Lankan forces permitted two weeks supply of food to enter. Another 40 trucks worth of food was stopped and sent back.

Meanwhile, both the Sunday Times and The Sunday Leader newspapers said that Mr. Rock had written to the Sri Lankan government saying that despite Colombo’s denials and vilification of him, the UN official was standing by his report.

Copies of his report to the UN had been sent to the Sri Lankan government, the papers said.

“However, in forwarding the evidence, Rock has been careful not to furnish the names or addresses of the eyewitnesses having considered implications for their security, a decision taken in consultation with the international community and top UN officials,” The Sunday Leader said.


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