Myanmar Armed Forces discharge 42 children and young people
YANGON, July 7, 2013 – The United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNICEF welcomed the discharge today of 34 children and 8 young people by the Myanmar Armed Forces, or Tatmadaw, in line with the Government’s commitment to end the recruitment and use of children by the army in Myanmar.
The children and young people, who were recruited when they were children, were discharged to their families and friends in the presence of senior officials from the Tatmadaw, the Myanmar Ministries of Defence, Foreign Affairs, and Social Welfare, Relief, Rehabilitation and Resettlement.
The UN Resident Coordinator’s Office and UNICEF were also present as co-chairs of the UN task force charged with facilitating Myanmar’s implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1612 in Myanmar together with representatives from other members of the task force.
“This discharge is the expression of a renewed commitment by the Government of Myanmar to ensuring UNSC 1612 is upheld as part of the current transition towards reform, good governance and inclusion. We expect the Tatmadaw will now be in a position to speed up the release of all children. We are very happy for the 42 children and their families today but we must accelerate efforts so that many more children benefit from release,” said UN Resident Coordinator Ashok Nigam.
Under a UNSC 1612 Action Plan for Myanmar, the Government agreed to locate all children recruited by the Tatmadaw with a view to ensuring their unconditional release. The Government also committed to discharging and facilitating their quick reintegration back into their families and their communities.
The action plan includes commitments to allow UN monitoring teams to access military facilities and to train military personnel on how to better protect, respect and promote the rights of Myanmar children.
“All parties recognize this is about the future of Myanmar. No child should have to endure the hardship of being taken away from their families, friends, schools and communities” said Mr. Nigam. “Nothing justifies the recruitment of children in armed forces. An army is not a place for a child to grow up.”
“We will continue working with the Myanmar Government and the Tatmadaw towards expanding access for UN monitoring teams, addressing identified systemic procedural weaknesses, and mobilizing the Myanmar public in support of ending this practice for the sake of their children and the whole country,” he added.
In his recent report to the UN Security Council on children and armed conflict in Myanmar, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the fact that while children are still being recruited into the Tatmadaw - following the signing of the Action Plan - new recruits have decreased.
“Through today’s discharge and by moving away from recruiting new children, the Myanmar Government and its armed forces continue to demonstrate their desire to end this deeply saddening practice” said UNICEF Representative Bertrand Bainvel.
“The Action Plan continues to be a unique opportunity to - once and for all - ensure that the Tatmadaw is a child-free armed force and is removed from the annex of the Secretary-General report which lists Parties to the conflict that recruit and use children.” Mr. Bainvel added.
“Ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on involvement of children in armed conflicts would also demonstrate the Myanmar Government is serious about ending this practice. Importantly, it would also signal to Myanmar non-state actors that the time to end the use of Myanmar children in conflict is now.”
UNICEF has saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.
UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries – more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive.