KATHMANDU, March 22 – Head of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), Ian Martin on Thursday said that there were substantial numbers of minors registered as combatants at the different Maoist cantonments across the country. Martin also said that the UNMIN believed that the number of those who were recruited by the Maoists after they signed the Ceasefire Code of Conduct with the government on 25 May 2006 was also significant. He said that both the minors and those recruited after the signing of the ceasefire code of conduct will have to be discharged when UNMIN begins the second phase of verification of Maoist combatants.
“I have made clear to the Maoist leadership that UNMIN believes that there are substantial numbers of minors in the cantonments as well as persons who were recruited after 25 May 2006, and I have asked for their (Maoists’) cooperation regarding their discharge, as the agreement requires,” said Martin.
He made the remarks at a press conference organized at the UN House in Pulchowk Thursday afternoon. Expressing sorrow over Wednesday’s killings in Rautahat, Martin said the incident had shocked the international community as it had shocked Nepal.
“The confrontation (in Rautahat) could and should have been avoided. I hope the perpetrators of the killings will be identified and brought to justice,” said Martin expressing hope that leaders of all groups will stop putting the lives of their followers at risk.
He also informed that the Fifth Committee of the UN General Assembly would today adopt a resolution giving UNMIN a budget of US $88.8 million, as recommended by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). He also informed that the total staffing of UNMIN will now grow to a little under 700 international personnel in all categories, including 186 arms monitors, 258 UN Volunteers, and little under 400 national staff.
Expressing regret that the government and the Maoists were yet to reach agreement regarding the arrangements for personal security of the Maoist leaders, Martin informed that the UNMIN had registered 96 weapons retained by the Maoists outside the cantonments.