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Myanmar amongst worst users of chil

Myanmar amongst worst users of child soldiers: report

AFP Bangkok 10 May 2000.   Myanmar is amongst the most prolific users of 
child soldiers, many of them battered and sexually abused, the first-ever 
survey on the use of children in war released here Wednesday said.

According to the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Myanmar has 
one of the highest
numbers of child soldiers in the world ... many of whom have been forced to 
join" military groups.

"Orphans and street children are particularly vulnerable."

The Coalition -- made up of internationally renowned non-governmental 
organizations -- defines child
soldiers as under the age of eighteen.

The Coalition slammed not only Myanmar's military regime but also ethnic 
rebel groups fighting the
Yangon junta, including the Karen National Union and God's Army for 
recruiting youngsters.

God's Army gained international fame in January 2000 when a number of its 
members, who claim to
follow 12-year-old twins Johnny and Luther Htoo, who they believe have 
magical powers, seized a
hospital in western Thailand.

A UN report in March on human rights in Myanmar condemned the country for 
massive violations of
human rights and the large-scale displacement of some ethnic groups in 1999.

The UN estimated that about one million children in Myanmar suffer from 
malnutrition, and there is an
increasing use of heroin and an alarming spread of HIV/AIDS.