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New UN Report On Child Soldiers - 2002-12-16

It’s estimated that as many as 300-thousand children under the age of 18 are fighting in armed conflicts in more than 30 countries. Monday, the UN Security Council received a new report that promises “a new era of monitoring and reporting on how children are treated during armed conflict.”

The report says those who violate standards for the protection of children “cannot do so with impunity.” Olara Otunnu is the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. From the United Nations headquarters, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the report.

Ambassador Otunnu says it lists twenty-three parties, including governments and insurgents, in five conflict situations. These include Afghanistan, Burundi, the DRC, Liberia and Somalia. The list, he says, is confined to situations currently on the Security Council’s agenda.

The report also “highlights other conflicts not on the agenda, including Columbia, Burma, Sudan, northern Uganda” among others. But there is also good news to report. “Demobilization and/or reintegration programs for child combatants are underway in Angola, Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau.

The report is the UN Secretary-General’s third on Children and Armed Conflict.