Myanmar military has released 67 more cases of under-aged child soldiers recruited and used in military services, signifying the first such release in 2017.
Under a joint action plan with the United Nations to end and prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers, the number of such release has reached 877 as of June this year since the action plan was signed in 2012.
The move also underlined the importance of protecting children in context of armed conflicts and within the peace process, said a joint statement of the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and the Myanmar UN Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on Grave Violation against Children released on Friday.
The freed children are set to benefit from social-economic reintegration programs, including access to education, vocational training and income generating activities, to restart their lives.
Hailing Myanmar's move, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said the UN Country Task Force would continue to work in partnership with the government to completely end the involvement of under-aged children in armed conflicts.
Myanmar's Ministry of Education has also been making efforts to ensure that the released children can join school without delay.
In efforts to prevent child labor and employment of children in dangerous or illegal work, Myanmar authorities have warned of punishing those who abandon or traffic children under 12 or force them to be in line with criminal and juvenile laws.
Myanmar military has made a high-level review of its joint action plan, acknowledging progress made so far and defining essential remaining steps particularly to strengthen oversight at all the stages of the recruitment process in order to prevent under-aged recruitment.
Other agreed areas of emphasis include accountability for civilian or military perpetrators of under age recruitment, increased protection in the law, and further training for military personnel.
Under the coordination of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, various partners provide immediate support for the reintegration of these children with an emphasis on access to education and vocational training, and income generating activities.
UNICEF stressed continued efforts to systematically provide children with effective protection against any form of abuse.
Under a program of protecting under-aged children from taking military services, Myanmar signed an 18-month Action Plan with the United Nations' Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting in 2012 which was renewed every six months.
The United Nations has engaged in a dialogue on issues related to child soldiers, agreeing to the appointment of a high level focal point from the Ministry of Social Welfare to engage with the UN Country Team and especially UNICEF on all issues related to children and armed conflict as well as the setting up of a monitoring mechanism to find out the real situation in the country regarding child soldiers with a task force established.
Myanmar has made efforts to stop recruiting minors for military service, promising continuous supervision over the personnel concerned to ensure that they do not accept minors and will work according to the law, rules and regulations and directives.
The country formed the Committee for Prevention against Recruiting Minors into Army in January 2005.
Myanmar's National Committee on the Rights of Child has also pledged to make endeavors to ensure the rights of children in the nation which is cited as the rights to survival, to develop to the fullest, to protection from harmful influence, abuse and exploitation and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.