Tatmadaw discharges children on anniversary of landmark Myanmar - United Nations accord
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The children were discharged to their long awaiting 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 Country Task Force charged with facilitating Myanmar’s implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1612 (UNSC 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 Myanmar Government has agreed to locate all children recruited by the Tatmadaw with a view to ensuring their unconditional release. The Government has 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 training military personnel on how to better protect, respect and promote the rights of Myanmar children.
“All parties recognise 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 mobilising the Myanmar public in support of ending this practice for the sake of their children and the whole country,” Mr Nigam added.
In his recent report to the UNSC on children and armed conflict in Myanmar, the UN Secretary-General welcomed that while Myanmar children are still being recruited into the Tatmadaw - following the signature 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.” Mr Bainvel concluded. [ends]
• killing or maiming of children
The “Tatmadaw” (together with its integrated border guard forces) is listed in Annex 1 alongside 7 other non-state armed group persistent perpetrators in Myanmar in the latest (public) report of the UN Secretary-General on children and armed conflict (2013) as follows:
1. Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA)
*The UN Country Taskforce which includes UNICEF, the UN Resident Coordinator, UNHCR, ILO, UN OCHA, UNDP, WFP, UNFPA, Save the Children and World Vision continue their efforts with the Myanmar Government and the Tatmadaw towards the full implementation of commitments under the UNSC 1612 Action Plan in Myanmar.
For more information please contact:
Ye Lwin Oo, Communication Officer, Programme Communication and Information Section, UNICEF Myanmar, 09 511 3295 (m).