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Free child soldiers fast, UN chief tells Nepal
Kathmandu, Jul 18 (IANS):
Published on 18 Jul. 2009 11:29 PM IST
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In his new report on Nepal, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the discharge of child soldiers from Maoist camps “long overdue” and urged the government to do it at a “brisk pace”. The quarterly report, released in Nepal Saturday, will be discussed by the UN Security Council next week. Ban said while Nepali Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal’s pledge to give priority to the discharge of over 4,000 disqualified combatants of the Maoists People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was encouraging, it was important that plans for the discharge continued at a brisk pace in the coming weeks. The report comes after Nepal Friday began the process of discharging nearly 3,000 child soldiers and about 1,000 illegal recruits inducted after the signing of the 2006 peace pact that ended a decade of armed insurrection. Ban has pointed out that the special committee set up to supervise, integrate and rehabilitate about 19,000 Maoist army personnel with the national army has become dormant because of the ongoing political crisis. During the previous government led by the Maoists, their chief and prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda headed the committee. However, with Prachanda resigning in May after a dispute over sacking the army chief, the committee remains headless. A technical committee under the special committee visited three PLA army cantonment sites to formulate possible integration models. But these were yet to be translated into a plan due to the political uncertainty, the UN chief said. When the team of government and UN officials talked with PLA combatants in the Shaktikhor cantonment in Nawalparasi district Friday, the fighters rejected the suggestions that they be provided higher education or training to work in sectors related to agriculture and industries. Instead, they are asking for employment in the security sector. The government has said 4,008 people who were disqualified during a headcount by the UN would be discharged by Nov 2. The prime minister, who returned to Kathmandu Saturday from the 15th Non-Aligned Movement summit in Egypt, told journalists at the airport that the future of the remaining 19,000 PLA combatants would be addressed soon.

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