United Na­tions hails re­lease of 109 child sol­diers from Tat­madaw

Mizzima Business Weekly - - NEWS ROUNDUPS -

The largest re­lease of child sol­diers from the Tat­madaw since an ac­tion plan on the is­sue was signed more than two years ago has been wel­comed by the United Na­tions in a state­ment re­leased in Yan­gon on Septem­ber 25.

The re­lease of the 109 chil­dren demon­strated the Tat­madaw’s con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to pro­fes­sion­alise its se­cu­rity forces and en­sur­ing they be­come and re­main “child free”, said the state­ment.

The de­vel­op­ment fol­lows the re­lease of 91 chil­dren and young peo­ple in Au­gust and brings to 472 the to­tal dis­charged un­der the June 2012 ac­tion plan to end and pre­vent the re­cruit­ment and use of chil­dren, it said.

“The United Na­tions wel­comes to­day’s re­lease of a fur­ther 109 chil­dren and young peo­ple,” said UN res­i­dent and hu­man­i­tar­ian co­or­di­na­tor, Ms Re­nata Lok-Des­sal­lien, who also co-chairs the Coun­try Task Force on Mon­i­tor­ing and Re­port­ing on grave vi­o­la­tions against chil­dren (CTFMR).

“We are wit­ness­ing an in­creas­ing num­ber of chil­dren com­ing out of the Tat­madaw, in­di­cat­ing the ac­cel­er­at­ing ef­forts of the Gov­ern­ment of Myan­mar and the Tat­madaw to put an end to the harm­ful prac­tice of re­cruit­ing and us­ing chil­dren,” Ms Lok-Des­sal­lien said.

The gov­ern­ment de­vel­oped the ac­tion plan with the CTFMR in June 2012 in re­sponse to the Tat­madaw and seven non-state armed groups hav­ing been in­cluded on the UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral’s list of par­ties to con­flict who re­cruit and use chil­dren since 2007, the state­ment said.

The plan sets out mea­sures to end and pre­vent the use and re­cruit­ment of chil­dren.

“To­day’s dis­charge is a re­sult of in­ten­si­fied dis­cus­sions be­tween the Gov­ern­ment and the CTFMR on how to speed up ef­forts to make the Tat­madaw child free,” said UNICEF coun­try rep­re­sen­ta­tive and task force co-chair Ber­trand Bain­vel.

“We com­mend the progress achieved so far, in­clud­ing the is­su­ing of a new di­rec­tive which seeks to pre­vent en­roll­ment at bat­tal­ion level, con­tin­ued CTFMR ac­cess to mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties and the set­ting-up of bill­boards na­tion­wide to raise aware­ness that the re­cruit­ment of chil­dren - those un­der the age of 18 years - is il­le­gal,” Mr Bain­vel said.

The state­ment said a re­view of the ac­tion plan by the gov­ern­ment and the task force on Septem­ber 26 would eval­u­ate progress and iden­tify the re­main­ing steps needed to end the re­cruit­ment of chil­dren by the Tat­madaw.

Apart from the Tat­madaw, the seven non-state armed groups on the UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral’s list are the Demo­cratic Karen Benev­o­lent Army, Kachin In­de­pen­dence Army, Karen Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army, Karen Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army Peace Coun­cil, Karenni Army, Shan State Army-South and the United Wa State Army.

(Mizzima)

A for­mer child sol­dier carries his be­long­ings as he leaves a mil­i­tary com­pound in Yangon af­ter a cer­e­mony re­leas­ing 96 chil­dren and young peo­ple from the Tat­madaw, in a file photo taken on Jan­uary 18, 2014. Photo: Soe Than Win/AFP

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