Scores of children and young people released in latest Myanmar army discharge
YANGON, 7 August 2013 – The United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator and UNICEF today welcomed the release of a further 68 children and young people from the Myanmar armed forces (“Tatmadaw’). Today’s release follows the recent release of 42 children and young adults exactly one month ago on the anniversary of an historic UN – Myanmar Government accord aimed at ensuring the discharge of all children from the Tatmadaw.
The release ceremony was attended by senior officials from the Tatmadaw, representatives of the Myanmar Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, Ministry of Immigration, and the UN Resident Coordinator and UNICEF as co-Chairs of the UN Country Taskforce* along with other Taskforce members including the International Labor Organisation (ILO), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Save the Children and World Vision.
Today’s release is the latest of four such releases under the auspices of an Action Plan agreed between the Myanmar Government and the UN Country Taskforce on monitoring and reporting grave child rights violations in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1612. “This discharge of 68 children and young people from the Tatmadaw comes less than a month after the last discharge and is 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,” said Ashok Nigam, UN Resident Coordinator for Myanmar.
“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. We congratulate them and wish them and their families well as they reunite”, Mr Nigam added.
Today’s discharge under the auspices of the Action Plan follows the release of 42 children and young people in July 2013, 24 children in February 2013, and a further 42 children in September 2012. “Over the past 13 months, the Tatmadaw has discharged 176 children and young people formerly used and recruited as children to jubilant families and friends,” said Shalini Bahuguna, UNICEF Myanmar’s Deputy Representative in Yangon.
“Today’s release is the largest since the UN signed an historic agreement with the Myanmar Government and the Tatmadaw in June 2012 to end the use and recruitment of all and any children by the armed forces for all time,” Ms Bahuguna continued. “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”, she said. “The time has come for the mass release of all children from the Myanmar armed forces”, Ms Bahuguna added.
“The Myanmar Government should also now ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on involvement of children in armed conflicts to bolster these current positive actions,” Ms Bahuguna said.
In accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1612 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNICEF also continue to strongly urge all non-state armed groups in Myanmar listed in the Annexure to the UN Secretary-General’s latest report (2013) to immediately end the use and recruitment of children. [ends]
The six grave violations monitored and reported are:
• killing or maiming of children
The Tatmadaw (together with its integrated border guard forces) is listed in Annexure 1 alongside 7 other non-state armed group persistent perpetrators in Myanmar in the latest report (2013) of the UN Secretary-General on children and armed conflict as follows:
1. Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA)
*The UN Country Taskforce in Myanmar includes the UN Resident Coordinator, UNICEF, UNHCR, ILO, UN OCHA, UNDP, WFP, UNFPA, Save the Children and World Vision. The taskforce continues its efforts with the Myanmar Government and the Tatmadaw towards the full implementation of commitments made under the UN Security Council Resolution 1612 Action Plan in Myanmar.
UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: http://www.unicef.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
For more information please contact:
Kirsten Sjolander, OIC Chief of Communication, UNICEF Myanmar, Tel: +95 9 421 177 294 (m), firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ye Lwin Oo, Communication Officer, UNICEF Myanmar, 09 511 3295 (m), email@example.com.