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Myanmar lauded for child soldiers' release

YANGON, Myanmar, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- The release of 24 child soldiers from Myanmar's military should help the country reach its vow to end child rights violations sooner, the United Nations said.

The two dozen children were officially discharged Monday at a ceremony in Yangon, attended by senior officials of the armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw, and government and U.N. officials, UNICEF said in a release.

"This release of 24 children is a welcome step in the implementation of the action plan by the government and reflects its commitment that children should not -- and will no longer -- be recruited and used for military purposes," U.N. Resident Coordinator in Myanmar Ashok Nigam said. "I call for the acceleration of the release of all children from the Tatmadaw and for the non-state armed groups to also do the same."

In June, the United Nations and the Myanmar government signed an action plan establishing a timetable and measurable activities for the release and reintegration of children associated with armed forces, as well as the prevention of similar recruitment in the future.

Myanmar is one of 14 countries with armed forces or armed groups identified as committing grave child rights violations that is working with the United Nations to end grave violations against children in situations of armed conflict.

"A series of discharges just like this must accelerate in the coming months in order for the Tatmadaw to quickly achieve the double objective of zero under-age recruitment and full discharge of those that are under 18 in the armed forces," Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF's representative in Myanmar, said.

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