The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has welcomed the release of 68 children and young people from Burma's armed forces known as Tatmadaw, carried out under the auspices of an accord between the Government and the world body.
“I have always said the military is not a place for a child to grow up. We are very happy for the children and young people being discharged today,” said the UN Resident Coordinator for Myanmar (the name given to Burma by its military rulers), Ashok Nigam. “We congratulate them and wish them and their families well as they reunite.”
The release follows the discharge of 42 children in September 2012, 24 children in February, and a further 42 children and young people in July.
Mr Nigam said this was “a positive step towards the commitment by the Myanmar Government under the Action Plan to prevent and end the recruitment or use of children by the Tatmadaw.”
UNICEF Myanmar's Deputy Representative in Yangon, Shalini Bahuguna, noted that the latest release is the largest since the Myanmar signed the Action Plan with the UN Country Taskforce in June last year. The Plan seeks to ensure the monitoring and reporting of grave child rights violations in accordance to Security Council Resolution 1612.
Adopted in 2005, the resolution requested UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to establish a monitoring and reporting mechanism to provide timely and reliable information on six grave children's rights violations, which include the recruitment and use of children by armed forces and armed groups.
“The time has come for the mass release of all children from the Myanmar armed forces,” Ms. Bahuguna said. “We welcome today's release and further encourage the Myanmar Government and the Tatmadaw to continue accelerating identification and registration so that all children are discharged as a matter of urgency.”
Ms. Bahuguna also urged the Government to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on involvement of children in armed conflicts to bolster its positive actions.