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Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 18:00 GMT
UN names sides using child soldiers
Child soldiers
Most of those named are involved in African conflicts

The UN has for the first time published a list of organisations that are recruiting child soldiers.

The UN special representative for children and armed conflict, Olara Otunnu, says the report is a thin end of the wedge and sends a political signal that the international community is watching the 23 organisations and governments it names.

He says he hopes the UN Security Council will use the report to recommend action against those on the list.
The world will hold you responsible for what you do to children in situations under your control

Olara Otunnu

There are thought to be around 300,000 children who have been recruited as soldiers fighting in 41different countries.

But this list only focuses on conflicts currently under discussion by the Security Council.

'Unacceptable'

It names groups in Afghanistan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Somalia that are recruiting children as combatants and says the governments in the four African countries are also involved.

The wider report also names other countries including Burma and Colombia, where child fighters are being recruited.

Mr Otunnu hopes those involved will take notice that their behaviour is seen as unacceptable.

"The significance of this development is the political signal which the Security Council is sending. It is a thin end of a wedge which can then be expanded," he said.

Young soldiers
Many child soldiers have suffered under brutal regimes

"So to me, the most important is the signal that the world is watching and will hold you responsible for what you do to children in situations under your control.

Mr Otunnu said the Security Council could ban the flow of arms to organisations on the list and stop their leaders taking part in international meetings.

He would also like to see attacking schools and the sexual abuse of children designated as war crimes.

Most of the 23 organisations named on the list are involved in civil wars in Africa and they are unlikely to take much notice until the UN takes more specific action.

However, the UN sees this as part of a series of initiatives which, in the longer term, could stop yet more children being exploited as child fighters.

The forces and organisations mentioned in the UN report are:

In Afghanistan

  • remnants of the Taleban
  • Factions associated with the former Northern Alliance
  • Factions in the south of Afghanistan

In Burundi

  • Government of Burundi
  • PALIPEHUTU/FNL
  • CNDD/FDD

In the Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Government of the DR Congo
  • Congolese Liberation Movement - MLC
  • Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD)-Goma
  • Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD)-National
  • Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD)-Kisangani/ML
  • Hema militia (UPC)
  • Masunzu's forces
  • Lendu militias
  • Ex-FAR/Interahamwe
  • Mai-Mai

In Liberia

  • Government of Liberia
  • Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD)

In Somalia

  • Transitional national government
  • Juba Valley Alliance
  • Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council
  • Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council - Mogadishu
  • Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA)
See also:

30 Oct 02 | South Asia
20 Jun 02 | South Asia
25 Mar 02 | Science/Nature
11 Feb 02 | In Depth
10 May 00 | Africa
08 May 02 | Africa
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