Even as Sri Lanka’s new Chief of Defence Staff announced that 800 cadre belonging to the paramilitary group, Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP), have been inducted into the Army, UN Children’s agency UNICEF has announced that the outfit has more than 100 child soldiers.
According to Colombo based Daily Mirror, the latest UNICEF database, as of May 31, shows 107 outstanding cases of child soldiers with the TMVP of which 30 are under the age of 18 and 77 were underage at the time they were recruited but are now adults.
The TMVP had announced a few months back that it had handed over the last of the remaining child soldiers to UNICEF who in turn placed them at rehabilitation camps where several child soldiers, mostly from the LTTE are being rehabilitated, reported the Daily Mirror.
The newspaper further said, that when it contacted TMVP spokesman Azad Maulana, he confirmed that UNICEF had in fact contacted them over an outstanding number of child soldiers but added that the children may have been recruited by “other groups” operating in the East.
“We don’t have any child soldiers with us. We have been approached by UNICEF over some 30 outstanding cases. We feel there might be some other groups taking these children using our name. Our party leader Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan will meet UNICEF officials to discuss the issue,” Maulana told Daily Mirror.