Myanmar has held its biggest discharge of child soldiers from its army ranks. But the UN says boys are still being illegally recruited from poor families by the government and rebels.
Bertrand Bainvel, head of the UN Children’s Fund in Myanmar, said the release of children has been stepped up over the last 11 or 12 months.
“The larger numbers of underage recruitment is happening in Tatmadaw and smaller armies from non-state actors (rebels). Having said that it is clear for us that the non-state armies have exactly the same obligation,” said Bainvel.
He said the military wants to professionalise its ranks but the presence of child soldiers could block military cooperation with countries that could provide assistance.
Many young recruits are hired using forged documents, and most are from families that need the income that a son in the army can provide.