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LTTE child soldiers on combat duties

One of the saddest aspects of the treatment of citizens of the Vanni as hostages was the manner in which several international agencies did nothing about this. I have noted previously the manner in which no one working in the Vanni deigned to make it public when the LTTE was recruiting children from each family, and it was left to the Norwegian ambassador to reveal this to us formally after his visit to the Vanni.

There had indeed been a complaint from the then head of Save the Children, when the families of his employees were affected. I upbraided him at the time for having kept silent when the children of other familes were being taken, and his excuse was that surely government would not want Save the Children to be implicated in hostilities through family members of employees. My response was that I was not upset with him for finally protesting, it was his silence when the children of others were being recruited that horrified me.

Astonishingly, all this was going on while millions were being spent on what was supposed to be programmes to ensure protection for children. Needless to say, questions about the impact of these programmes, and efforts to ensure accountability, were met with obfuscation.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

May 2011
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