Sudan, Uganda Sign Pact to Return Abducted Soldier Children
Sudan had agreed "to take all measures to ensure the unconditional release" of all children abducted and drafted into its civil war, Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy said Sunday.
At the same time, he said, Uganda "will take all measures to engage in dialogue with the LRA ("Lord's Resistance Army") which will allow for the amnesty, reconciliation and rehabilitation, including the return and resettlement of members of the LRA, including abducted children.”
Axworthy said the agreement was part of a four-nation pact signed by Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail and Ugandan Minister Eriya Kategaya, along with Canada and Egypt.
The latter two countries, said Axworthy, would monitor the return of the abducted children and would report back to an international conference scheduled for January.
He said 16 children were being released from Sudan, for repatriation to Uganda on Sunday.
Among the things to be determined, said Axworthy, was exactly how many children had been abducted and were being held as prisoners or child-soldiers. He said an estimate by the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, put the figure at around 6,000.
Immediately after Sunday's agreement was signed, on the margins of the International Conference on War-Affected Children, Canada announced it would provide one million dollars (670,000 US) to help finance the rehabilitation of the abducted children -- WINNIPEG, Canada (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)