Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP), a Sri Lanka militia (and breakaway faction of the Tamil Tiger rebels) backed by the government, has agreed Thursday to release 60 child soldiers it currently has fighting in its ranks.
Human Rights Watch has claimed that from June 2006 to December 2006 they forcefully recruited several hundred children.
According to the International Herald Tribune today:
When it split from the mainstream rebel group [Tamil Tigers] in 2004, TMVP released thousands of underage fighters and aligned itself with the government to fight the rebels. However, when hostilities increased it resumed kidnapping children to be trained as fighters with the backing of government forces, according to the U.N. and human rights groups.
According to the latest UNICEF records, there are 133 pending cases of child recruitment by TMVP. However, 71 of the recruits are now over 18 years of age, spokesman James Elder said. [The mainstream rebels, who have a long history of recruiting minors, have 1,424 cases pending against them but 1,316 of the recruits are now over 18, Elder said.]
After their release, it is essential that these children receive proper rehabilitation and reintegration back into society.