Sri Lanka removed from UN child conflict blacklist

Tamil children in Sri Lanka being lined up by police
Image caption Nearly 1,400 children recruited to fight in Sri Lanka's civil war are still missing

Sri Lanka has been removed from a United Nations blacklist after making progress in child welfare.

The UN's annual report , Children and Armed Conflict, praised the country's efforts to improve health and education and to trace missing children.

The whereabouts of almost 1,400 children who were recruited to fight in Sri Lanka's civil war is unknown.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Sri Lanka had made serious efforts to trace those children.

He said this was the reason the country had been removed from the UN's list.

Sri Lanka was also praised by a Unicef board member who recently led a delegation visiting the country.

He said the government's efforts to distribute money for vaccinations and schooling during the war was "amazing".

He also said the country now had some of the best child-health indicators in the region.

Sri Lanka's civil war came to an end in 2009, after 26 years of conflict and up to 100,000 casualties as Tamils fought for for self-rule.

Image caption Sri Lanka's civil war lasted 26 years, and devastated towns and villages in parts of the country

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Sri Lanka says the country was once notorious for the use of children in conflict, most of them recruited by the Tamil Tigers.

Many children do remain missing: nearly 1400 out of nearly 7,000 that the Tigers recruited.

The whereabouts of five boys recruited by Tamil factions aligned with the government are being actively investigated by the National Child Protection Authority.

Mr Ban said the military had vacated a number of schools it had been occupying, but said he was concerned that 15 facilities were still being used by security forces.

Fifty-two countries are named on the UN's blacklist, with Syria, Yemen and Sudan among the most recent additions.

The report on Syria listed incidents of the torture and killing of children, as well as the use of children in conflict.

As well as Sri Lanka, Nepal was also taken off the list after complying with UN Security Council programmes.

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