Forty-six children released by Myanmar army

Yangon, Myanmar– In the first discharge of 2016, the Government of Myanmar released 46 children and young people recruited and used by the Armed Forces.

Since June 2012, when the Myanmar government signed a Joint Action Plan with the United Nations, 745 children and young people* have been released by the army. The co-chairs of the UN Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR) on Grave Violations against Children, Renata Lok-Dessallien, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative, welcomed this latest discharge as one more positive development to completely end the involvement of children in armed conflict in Myanmar.

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In an earlier discharge, a former child soldier shows his discharge documents. Copyrights: UNICEF Myanmar

In New York, Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, added her voice to welcome the new release of children and young people recruited as children.

The children and young people discharged will benefit from reintegration programmes to help them re-start their lives and seize new opportunities for their own development and participation in the life of their country.

“I am encouraged by the progress in Myanmar,” said the Special Representative, “ but I am also looking forward to the strengthening of the legal framework and to seeing all the tools and mechanisms put in place to ensure that no one can recruit children.”

Since the signature of the Joint Action Plan, the Government has taken steps to reinforce age assessment procedures within the centralized military recruitment process, and encourages the further roll out of this important prevention mechanism. In September 2015, Myanmar signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. The Special Representative encourages the Government to ratify the optional protocol as soon as possible.

In Myanmar, the UN Country Task Force continues to work with the Government to end the recruitment and use of children. Remaining measures include strengthening accountability frameworks through new opportunities such as the current revision of the Child Law.

The Task Force has started a dialogue with several of the seven armed groups listed in the Annual report of the Secretary General on children and armed conflict for recruitment and use of children with the view of developing and signing Action Plans to better protect the children of Myanmar.

* All young people released were children under 18 at the time of the signing of the Joint Action Plan in June 2012.

This text was adapted from a news note originally published on the website of UNICEF Myanmar