By Alisa Tang
BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Myanmar's armed forces discharged 51 child soldiers from its ranks on Thursday, bringing the total number of discharges this year so far to 93, the United Nations said.
Renata Lok-Dessallien, the U.N. resident coordinator in Myanmar welcomed the discharge of the children, including those accused of desertion.
"They should not have been in the army in the first place", she said in a statement.
Myanmar has for years been listed among countries where children have been recruited to fight, by both the government army and ethnic minority rebel groups.
During half a century of military rule, Myanmar's government was condemned internationally for human rights abuses including the recruitment of child soldiers.
A reformist, semi-civilian government that took over in 2011 has been working with the United Nations to get children out of the military.
Since June 2012, when the Myanmar government signed a joint action plan with the United Nations to end the recruitment and use of children in the its armed forces, 646 children have been released by the army, the statement said.
"Reintegration of children formerly associated with the Tatmadaw (Myanmar army) requires long-term efforts and continued funding," Unicef country representative Bertrand Bainvel said.
The U.N. listed seven ethnic minority rebel forces that also use child soldiers including the Kachin Independence Army, Karen National Liberation Army, Karenni Army, Shan State Army South, and United Wa State Army.
(Reporting by Alisa Tang, Editing by Ros Russell.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)