Myanmar Military Releases 109 Child Soldiers

The United Nations said Myanmar’s military has released 109 children from its ranks, the largest such release since the government agreed two years ago to stop using child soldiers.

In a statement Thursday, the U.N. Children’s Fund said the move shows Myanmar’s military is serious about speeding up efforts to end the recruitment and use of children.

Those released Thursday were under 18 at the time Myanmar, also known as Burma, signed an agreement with the U.N. in 2012 outlining measures to end the practice.

Since then, a total of 472 children have been released, including 91 who were discharged in August.

The U.N. says at least seven other armed groups, apart from the government armed forces, recruit and use child soldiers in Myanmar, which is emerging from years of direct military rule.

Since taking power in 2011, Myanmar’s nominally civilian government has undertaken several reforms, including easing media restrictions, allowing more freedom to opposition groups and releasing hundreds of political prisoners.

But rights groups and activists have said that despite the political and economic reforms, there have been no significant changes in human rights abuses carried out by Myanmar’s military, particularly in rebel-dominated areas.

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