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Myanmar military releases 96 child recruits

YANGOON, Myanmar — Myanmar's military released 96 children Saturday who had been recruited into the armed forces.

The widespread use of children as soldiers and labourers by the army was one of many human rights abuses that earned Myanmar pariah status among Western democracies during the two previous decades.

"Today demonstrates the importance of the action plan which constitutes a significant commitment by the Myanmar government to prevent and end the recruitment and use of children by the Tatmadaw (military)," UN resident coordinator Renata Dessallien said.

Sanctions against the country were only dropped last year to reward the significant political reforms introduced by President Thein Sein who took office in March 2011.

"To date 272 children and young people have been released under the auspices of the action plan," said Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF representative in Yangon.

The UN has called on the nation's ethnic insurgencies to sign similar commitments to end the use of child soldiers.

"We encourage the seven listed non-state armed groups in Myanmar to also sign up to their own action plan," Dessallien said.

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