Myanmar’s government released 53 children from the Tatmadaw on Monday, bringing the total number of children released this year to 146.
“Today’s release is the result of continued efforts of the Government of Myanmar and the Tatmadaw to put an end to the harmful practice of recruiting and using children. I am delighted to see these children and young people returning to their homes and families,” said Renata Lok-Dessallien, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar.
In June 2012, the Myanmar government signed a Joint Action Plan with the United Nations. Since the signing of the plan, 699 children have been released from the army, according to a UNICEF press release.
The UN Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on Grave Violations against Children welcomed the release, while stressing the need for the Myanmar government to make every effort to end the recruitment and use of children in its armed forces.
In 2007, in addition to the Tatmadaw, seven ethnic armed groups in Myanmar were named on the UN Secretary-General’s list of groups who use and recruit children. These include the United Wa State Army, Kachin Independence Army, Shan State Army South and Democratic Karen Benevolent Army, among others.
“We call on all those listed in the Secretary-General report to commit to end the recruitment and use of children, and welcome the opportunity to work with them to bring lasting peace in Myanmar,” said Ms Lok-Dessallien.
In November 2013, UNICEF and the Myanmar government launched a nationwide hotline to raise awareness about the use of children in armed forces. Two hotlines (09 421166701 and 09 4211667020) have been set up where anyone can alert and report suspected cases of children being used or recruited in the Tatmadaw.