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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 December, 2003, 12:50 GMT
Tigers 'still enlisting' children
By Frances Harrison
BBC correspondent in Colombo

Filming child-soldiers
There was much media interest in the children freed in October
Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka are continuing to recruit child soldiers - despite promises not to, international ceasefire monitors say.

The monitors say they received more than 80 complaints of child recruitment by the Tigers in October alone.

That was the month when the rebels and the United Nations opened a joint rehabilitation centre for former child soldiers in Sri Lanka's civil war.

The centre has received no new children since the first 40 arrived.

Just hours after the Tamil Tigers opened the UN-sponsored transit home in October, there were reliable reports they had abducted 23 children in one town in the east of the island.

The United Nations children's agency, Unicef, however, only managed to confirm four of the cases of under-aged recruitment - probably because parents were too frightened to come forward after the media publicity.

Adults abducted

Now statistics from the truce monitors show they received more than 80 complaints of child recruitment by the Tigers in October alone - the vast majority of them from eastern Sri Lanka.

That did slow down in November to nearly 40 complaints of child recruitment - but that month also saw a significant number of adults being abducted.

What is not clear is how many parents whose children are abducted come forward to make complaints - the real figures for under-aged recruitment may be much higher.

More worryingly, Unicef officials say the transit centre they paid for in rebel territory has not received any new children since it opened with about 40 under-aged recruits.

It had been hoped the centre would hold up to 150 children at a time for no longer than three months.




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