Joint Statement by the UN Special Envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid
The 1 February military takeover, led by the Commander in Chief of the Tatmadaw, halted Myanmar’s peaceful democratic transition and caused a violent ongoing multi-faceted crisis with grave impacts for children and their future. In the absence of peaceful and inclusive dialogue to end this situation, and the lack of unified international response, the United Nations continues to receive alarming reports of a growing number of children and youth seeking to join armed groups, while others have been displaced, detained, or are suffering.
The abuse of children by all parties to the conflict in Myanmar has increased notably through the recruitment use and killing and maiming of children, in addition to ongoing attacks on schools and hospitals and protected personnel. The arbitrary detention of children is also a serious concern, while all children in Myanmar and those displaced by the fighting are experiencing various degrees of violence including mental and physical degradation. We urge all parties in Myanmar to immediately stop all child rights violations, retain, and enact domestic legislation criminalizing the six grave violations, promote all aspects of the Child Rights Law, and engage collectively in the protection of children from the ravages of conflict, including the prevention of their recruitment and use.
The delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance for children in Myanmar has also been impaired by the crisis mainly through access and security constraints, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unrestricted humanitarian access to children must be granted through all existing channels in line with the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence. The United Nations calls on all parties to exercise utmost restraint to protect children and to respect their responsibilities under international law. Children should never, under any circumstances, be recruited or used in hostilities. The prohibition of the six grave violations against children in armed conflict must guide prevention efforts in Myanmar.
The desperate situation of children in Myanmar and those displaced in neighboring countries, in particular the Rohingya children in Bangladesh, demands greater attention from the international community as well as from regional actors. The protection of children’s rights should remain a key priority by all stakeholders across the globe. Violence against children including their use and abuse by parties to armed conflict in Myanmar must stop. The children of Myanmar have the right to no less.
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