More child soldiers released by Myanmar armed forces

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girl child soldier in Myanmar who at age 15 enlisted in an armed militia group after the National Army burned her village.(2000) Peter Mantello

Sixty-eight child soldiers recruited into the Myanmar armed forces were on Wednesday released back to their families, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

This is the largest release of child soldiers by the country's armed forces under the auspices of a UN – Myanmar Government accord aimed at ensuring the discharge of all children from active duty.

A total of 176 child soldiers have been discharged from the armed forces since the accord was signed in June 2012.

Welcoming the release of the children, UNICEF's deputy representative in Myanmar Shalini Bahuguna urged the government and the armed forces to accelerate the process of discharging and demobilizing all children engaged in active military service.

Ms Bahuguna said poverty, lack of education opportunities and pressure from families were some of the reasons why children were recruited into the armed forces.

"There is no verifiable detail on the exact number of children recruited by the Myanmar armed forces. But we do know that since 2006 to June 2012 over 570 children have been demobilized and almost 350 children have been reintegrated into their communities. For all children that will be prepared for reintegration back to their communities and families, all children will be provided with the support they need depending on the assessment of their needs to be able to fully integrate fully back to the communities." 

The Myanmar armed forces alongside seven other rebel groups in the country are listed by the United Nations as being actively engaged in the recruitment of child soldiers, in contravention of the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.

Duration 1.42″

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