Myanmar: Crisis in Rakhine State Has Horrendous Impact on Children

Boys and girls of Myanmar suffered patterns of grave violations following the crisis outbreak in northern Rakhine State in August 2017 a report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict shows. The report complements the fourth report on the impact of armed conflict on children in Myanmar published in December 2017 and focuses specifically on the crisis in northern Rakhine and areas of ongoing conflict in Kachin and Shan States between 1 July 2017 and 31 August 2018.

The findings are in line with reports from other UN bodies and confirm thousands of grave violations against children, including killing and maiming and rape and other forms of sexual violence for which the armed forces of Myanmar (Tatmadaw) have already been listed in the 2017 Secretary-General Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict.

During the 14-month reporting period, 669 children were reported killed and 39 maimed, the large majority Rohingyas. Of this, only 220 child casualties could be verified due to access constraints; all verified cases were attributed to the Tatmadaw. Highly credible reports of the large-scale killing/massacre of 99 members of the Hindu population, including children, by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) were also received by the UN.

Numerous and consistent reports of rape and other forms of sexual violence were also documented, including 41 involving children; the UN was able to verify eight incidents, all attributed to the Tatmadaw. Actual figures are likely to be much higher as access restrictions and stigma associated with rape and sexual violence often leads to underreporting the violation.

“Children in Myanmar suffered horrific violations,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Virginia Gamba, said. “Ensuring their protection requires strong legal instruments but also access to information. I call on the authorities to provide full and unimpeded access to the United Nations and their partners to provide assistance and protection to children in all part of the country,” she said.

SRSG Gamba visited Myanmar in May this year to engage with the Government and voiced her concerns at the emerging trends in grave violations. She also stressed the need to accelerate the implementation of the Action Plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by the Government Forces.

During the reporting period, 75 children and young people were released by the Tatmadaw as part of the Action Plan, for a total of 924 children released since 2012. The UN is currently implementing a training for military personnel to prevent all grave violations against children and SRSG Gamba reminded that the United Nations stands ready to continue working with the Tatmadaw and all listed parties to end grave violations against children. The report further recommends reviewing and amending legislation to end the detention and prosecution of children when associated with armed groups.

Efforts to hold perpetrators accountable, including 448 military personnel disciplined for the recruitment and use of children, are emphasized in the report and the SRSG called on the authorities to extend accountability to all six grave violations.

Notwithstanding positive developments such as the submission of the new Child Rights Law to the Parliament in July 2017, the conditions for children in the northern parts of the country continue to be dire. “The United Nations remains committed to work with all listed parties to end grave violations against children and ensure that the conditions are met for a voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of refugees,” SRSG Gamba added.

Note to editors:

  • At the end of August 2018, 706,000 civilians from Myanmar had fled to Bangladesh; over 90% of them are Rohingyas and more than 60% are women and children. Active fighting between Tatmadaw and non-state armed groups affect civilians and children and limit humanitarian operations especially in Kachin and Shan State.

Parties to conflict in Myanmar listed in the Annual Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict (2017):

  1. Tatmadaw Kyi, including integrated border guard forces – Recruitment and use of children, Killing and Maiming of Children; Rape and other forms of sexual violence against children;
  2. Karen National Liberation Army – Recruitment and use of children;
  3. United Wa State Army – Recruitment and use of children;
  4. Democratic Karen Benevolent Army – Recruitment and use of children;
  5. Kachin Independence Army – Recruitment and use of children;
  6. Karenni Army – Recruitment and use of children;
  7. Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council – Recruitment and use of children;
  8. Shan State Army – Recruitment and use of children;

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For more information, please contact:
Stephanie Tremblay / Fabienne Vinet
Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict
Office: +1-212-963-8285 / Mobile: +1-917-288-5791,
tremblay@un.org / vinet@un.org