Health Desk--2 Sep’18: Myanmar's military has released 75 child soldiers, a UN agency said, its first discharge this year as part of a gradual process to end decades of forced recruitment of underage fighters.
There are no concrete figures on how many children are still among the estimated 500,000 troops that serve in Myanmar's military, or the ethnic rebel armies that it battles in the country's border regions.
The state's army -- also referred to as the "Tatmadaw" -- has released 924 children and young people from its ranks since signing a deal with the United Nations in 2012, according to Friday's statement released by UN child protection agency UNICEF.
UN Myanmar resident coordinator Knut Ostby said in a speech during the ceremony that it is much more difficult to recruit a child today than before the 2012 pact was signed.
However, experts say that as long as the army and ethnic armed groups continue warring within Myanmar, children remain at risk of recruitment.
Myanmar UNICEF representative June Kunugi said that there are also many who are pushed to join the Tatmadaw because of extreme poverty, lack of access to education and livelihood opportunities.
Courtesy: Afp, Yangon