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UN Names Countries, Groups Using Child Soldiers

The United Nations is calling for a crackdown on countries and rebel groups that use children to wage war.

The U.N. Friday issued a report naming some of the worst violators, including Burma, rebel groups in the Philippines, militias in Sudan and rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The report singled out Burma, where it said both the national army, known as Tatmadaw Kyi, and two Burmese rebel groups, the Karenni Army and the Karen National Liberation Army, have been recruiting child soldiers for the past five years.

It said three groups in the Philippines - Abu Sayyaf, the New People's Army and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) - have also been especially active in recruiting children.

The U.N. Security Council is expected to discuss the report next month.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, the U.N. special representative for children and armed conflict, warns that the shifting nature of many conflicts continue to put children on the front lines.

The report also said that some groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo were taking violence against children to a more brutal level, targeting them for rape and other sexual violence. The report also accused Somalia's transitional government and the country's al-Shabab rebels of killing and maiming children,

In addition to naming countries or groups that have persistently sought to use children as spies, soldiers or human shields, the report also named groups that have started using children for the first time. Those include the Afghan National Police and Somalia's Hizbul Islam militia.

U.N. officials said some countries are making progress.

Burundi was removed from the list after the U.N. verified that all children recruited by the National Liberation Forces (FLN) had been reunited with their families. Three groups have signed action plans to end the recruitment of child soldiers, including MILF in the Philippines, the Sudan People's Liberation Army and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.