Rebel Groups Welcome UN’s Child Soldiers Probe
The UN announced earlier on Tuesday that it was sending a team to Burma in order to press the ethnic rebel groups and the Burmese regime to stop using child soldiers.
The announcement followed a recent allegation by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that the Burmese army and ethnic rebel groups, including the KNU, are recruiting children to serve as fighters. The KNU and KNPP both denied the allegation.
KNU General-Secretary Zipporah Sein said: “I want to tell the UN to come to our areas and monitor the situation by itself. We will allow them if they want to come.”
She said the KNU had stopped the recruitment of child soldiers since 2003 and had signed an agreement with UNICEF in 2007 banning the practice.
Zipporah Sein conceded that the KNU had allowed children to serve as soldiers in the past as some young people wanted to sign up after they and their families suffered torture and other abuse at the hands of Burmese army troops.
The KNPP also denied recruiting child soldiers and said the proposed UN team would be welcome to inspect its territory.
Khu Oo Reh, secretary 1 of the KNPP said: “We warmly welcome them to come and witness the situation in our area.”
According to an Associated Press report, the UN Security Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to name and shame nations and rebel groups engaged in conflicts leading to children being killed, maimed and raped. Continue reading “Burma’s Karen National Union (KNU) and Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) said Tuesday they would welcome the arrival of a UN team which is being formed to look into charges that they are recruiting child soldiers.”