YANGON: Myanmar’s military has released 75 child soldiers, a UN agency said, its first discharge this year as part of a gradual process to end decades of forced recruitment of underage fighters, reports AFP.
There are no concrete figures on how many children are still among the estimated 500,000 troops that serve in Myanmar’s military, or the ethnic rebel armies that it battles in the country’s border regions.The state’s army—also referred to as the “Tatmadaw”—has released 924 children and young people from its ranks since signing a deal with the United Nations in 2012, according to Friday’s statement released by UN child protection agency UNICEF.
The child soldiers released will have to attend reintegration programmes to return them to civilian life, a process that will contribute to “bringing lasting peace in Myanmar as productive citizens”, the statement added.
Friday’s ceremony was attended by the discharged children and young people, with the youngest ex-soldier being 14 years old.
UN Myanmar resident coordinator Knut Ostby said in a speech during the ceremony that it is much more difficult to recruit a child today than before the 2012 pact was signed.