Nepal UN welcomes decision to discharge thousands of child soldiers

17 July 2009The United Nations welcomed the decision to today begin discharging and rehabilitating more than 4,000 Maoist army personnel – including thousands of child soldiers – in Nepal, calling this a “significant milestone” in the country’s ongoing peace process. The UN special political mission, known as UNMIN, and the world body’s Country Team lauded the announcement by the Government and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) that they would formally launch the discharge and rehabilitation process today for 4,008 Maoist army personnel (including 2,973 minors), who were disqualified under the verification process following the end of the civil war.In a press statement, UNMIN and the Country Team called on the UCPN-M to cooperate with authorities “to ensure the successful completion” of the initiative.They said that “it is encouraging that the agreement reached recognizes the importance of compliance with international standards in line” with the Security Council’s 2005 resolution on children and armed conflict.Further, today’s launch also “commits to following a discharge and rehabilitation process that will allow the disqualified personnel to choose freely between a range of rehabilitation assistance packages in the coming months,” the statement said, voicing the UN’s readiness to assist in the process.A decade-long civil war, claiming some 13,000 lives, ended in 2006 with the signing of a peace accord between the Government and Maoists. After conducting Constituent Assembly elections in May 2008, the nation abolished its 240-year-old monarchy and declared itself a republic.