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UN Leaves Child Soldiers in Syria & Jonglei Unaddressed, In Myanmar Counts on Ban

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 26 -- In slaughter in South Sudan's Jonglei State at the beginning of the year was carried out, not insubstantially, by Lou Nuer children against Murle tribespeople of all ages.

  But when the UN's Child Soldiers expert Radkhika Coomarswamy recently visited South Sudan, she was not permitted to travel to Jonglei.

  Inner City Press asked her, and she said it was because of the disarmament that has started. She called what happened, most notably at Pibor where hundreds were killed although the UN has not issued a count, a "community mobilization."

  She said that the this tribal conflict was being watched to see if "a structure making it an armed group" emerged. This may show a need to modify this UN Office's mandate, when it cannot address obvious cases of child soldiering.

  Likewise earlier in March Inner City Press sent to Coomaraswamy at her Office a picture from the March 3 New York Times, of an obviously under-aged fighter with the Free Syrian Army.

  Coomaraswamy finally commented on it, when asked again by Inner City Press on March 26, and said that she, the UN has "received allegations" of the recruitment of child soldiers by the Free Syrian Army.

  But what is being done about it? For example, Paulo Pinheiro of the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria has not mentioned it. Pinheiro told Inner City Press it is "not useful" to compare, even on number of dead, Syria to Myanmar, which he previously studied.

  Inner City Press asked Coomaraswamy about Myanmar, the world's largest recruiter of child soldiers, and whether UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would raise the issue if he travels there in April as he's publicly said he might.

  Coomaraswamy confirmed that Myanmar has still not signed the promised agreement on child soldiers, but predicted if it does not, Ban will raise the issue. We'll see.

  Moments later, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey if the UN is concerned that Myanmar is saying that at least three constituencies in Kachin State cannot vote in the upcoming election.

  Del Buey replied that if it's for security, it's understandable. And what does Ban's outgoing (or gone) chief of staff Vijay Nambiar, now only on Myanmar, have to say? Watch this site.

Footnote: Coomaraswamy will be leaving to teach at New York University. We wish her well.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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