Sri Lanka rebels recruiting fewer child soldiers

Tamil guerrillas have recruited fewer child soldiers in Sri Lanka this year amid mounting international condemnation against enlisting underage combatants, official figures showed Wednesday. Tamil guerrillas have recruited fewer child soldiers in Sri Lanka this year amid mounting international condemnation against enlisting underage combatants, official figures showed Wednesday. The recruitment pattern of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) revealed a decline in the past three years as rights groups and governments urged them to totally abandon the practice, child rights activists said.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Tigers recruited 137 children in the first four months of this year while freeing 37. Among those recruited were nine children displaced by the December 26 tsunamis.

Child recruitment this year compared with 368 boys and girls enlisted during the corresponding period in 2003 and 259 last year, UNICEF spokesman Geoffrey Keele said.

“In the first four months we had 137 cases. However, this is showing a substantial drop over the past two years,” Keele told AFP. “We take this as a positive sign and hope that the recruitmen