Nepal to free child soldiers from camps shortly

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KATHMANDU - The Nepali government and the ex- Maoist rebels agreed on Wednesday to start freeing 1000’s of child soldiers in Maoist camps within weeks, the United Nations (U.N.) said, 3 years after a peace deal ended a civil war.

The U.N. estimated in 2007 that almost 3,000 children were living in camps housing ex- Maoist fighters, part of a deal to end a decade-long conflict that caused more than 13,000 deaths.

"Today the minors who have spent the last 3 years in Maoist army cantonments with their lives on hold will finally be able to take the next step toward a more positive future," said Radhika Coomaraswamy, the special representative of the United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. She also said that the children will start leaving the camps on December 27 and would all be out within 40 days.

"This agreement shows our full and complete commitment for peace," said Maoist chief Prachanda, who still goes by his nom de guerre or war name. The U.N. has projected that another 1,000 people who joined as Maoist fighters after the peace process started in 2006 were also living in camps and should be discharged.

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