LTTE Abducts 24 Children, Adds to Their Squad of Child Soldiers

After a brief cease-fire that was declared in 2001, brought an end to the fighting between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for a while but hostilities renewed in late 2005. However, the cease-fire had brought little relief from one of the worst aspects of the twenty-year conflict: the LTTEÂ’s recruitment and use of children as soldiers. For Tamil families in the North and East of Sri Lanka who have suffered the monstrous atrocities that must have been the most fortunate thing in their life times. After tsunamis devastated Sri LankaÂ’s coastlines and killed, nearly 31,000 people LTTE moved a massive recruitment of children soldiers whose parents either died or were missing temporarily, despite repeated international condemnation of the practice. Most of them were aged between 15 and 17. Officials with the U.N. Children’s Fund in Sri Lanka say they have confirmed many cases of children being abducted or recruited as soldiers by the Tamil Tiger rebel group. Allegations of the rampant use of child soldiers by the Tigers are nothing new.

A breakaway Tamil rebel faction said on Friday that it would give UNICEF monitors free access to its camps to check claims it has recruited child soldiers. While it was thought to be a major step forward that will help to prevent children from being used by armed groups in Sri Lanka, Tamil Tiger rebels have kidnapped 24 schoolchildren in eastern Sri Lanka on Tuesday. The Tigers have accused the military of arming and using the breakaway rebels as proxies to fight the mainstream group, a claim given credence by the U.N. finding that government soldiers helped the splinter group recruit child soldiers. Parents of the children have left for rebel-held territory to persuade the rebels to free the children. The incident was reported to the local police but all they could do is inform the peace monitors and the human rights commission. The issue of child recruitment has been a major point of difference between government, human rights and international organisations and the rebels. These new 24 school going children are added to the list of many thousands of other child combatants that experience the horrors of war at such a young age. They become witnesses or victims of extreme physical violence, which includes beheadings, amputations, massacres, bombings, death squad executions, torture, arrests, forced displacement, sexual abuse, and destruction of property. And the worse, they are forced to contribute their services in these acts, and are given drugs to eradicate any fear or reluctance.