10 of 42 child soldiers released in Myanmar reported conditions

July 11, 2013 at 7:39 AM
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NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar, July 11 (UPI) -- Ten of the 42 child soldiers released Sunday by the Myanmar armed forces reported their circumstances to the International Labor Organization, the group said.

The children were released to their families in an event involving senior government officials and representatives of the U.N. Children's Fund and the U.N. resident coordinator in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

"Ten of them were identified through their report to us," said Stephen Marshall, chief communications officer for the ILO. "What citizens should know is that they have a legal right to sue for recruiting underage children as soldiers."

A plan signed with the United Nations in 2012 requires the Myanmar government to locate all children recruited by the armed forces -- known as Tatmadaw -- to ensure their release, as well as to facilitate the children's reunion with their families and communities.

The ILO has verified 770 cases of underage recruitment from April 2009 to December 2012 though child advocates say the actual number is likely higher.

Military leaders, though, say there are "almost no" child soldiers remaining in the army, Mizzima News reported Wednesday.

"There have always been reports about these child soldiers," Marshall said. "We have investigated and acknowledged that the child soldiers were running away from the front line camps."

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