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Myanmar Military Releases 109 Child Soldiers

Myanmar Military Releases 109 More Child Soldiers
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Watch video report from VOA's Zlatica Hoke.

The United Nations says 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, U.N. Children's Fund head Bertrand Bainvel said the move shows Myanmar's military is serious about speeding up efforts to end the recruitment and use of children.

"This is the largest release ever since the signing of the plan and we have been also happy to notice that we have seen an acceleration in the release of children and young people especially over the last 11, 12 months," Bainvel stated.

Those released Thursday were under 18 when Myanmar, also known as Burma, signed an agreement with the United Nations in 2012 outlining measures to end the practice.

Since then, 472 children have been released, including 91 discharged last month.

The United Nations says at least seven other armed groups, recruit and use child soldiers in Myanmar, which is emerging from years of direct military rule.

Since taking power in 2011, Burma'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 Burma's military, particularly in rebel-dominated areas.