TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Myanmar's army has freed 96 children and young people from its armed forces, the United Nations said Saturday, hailing a "historic step" towards ending the use of child soldiers in the formerly junta-run nation. The move was the largest single release of child recruits since Myanmar's new reformist government and its "tatmadaw" army signed a June 2012 pact with the UN on the issue. A total of 272 children and young people have been released over the past 18 months as the military has slowed - but not yet completely halted - its use of children.
The release was "a historic step towards ending the recruitment and use of children by the Myanmar Armed Forces," the United Nations said in a statement.
Bertrand Bainvel, representative for the UN children's agency UNICEF in the country, said the move was "a strong commitment by the Myanmar Government and the Tatmadaw to end a practice that steals the lives, hopes, and dreams of children".
There are no verifiable figures on how many children are currently serving in Myanmar's huge military, which has faced a slew of accusations over rights abuses, including the forced recruitment of children and other civilians to work as porters or even human mine detectors.
ASIAONE | EKO ARI