Myanmar: SRSG Gamba Echoes UN Secretary-General’s Call for Ceasefire as Alarming Increase in Child Casualties in 2020

Children and Armed Conflict

24 April 2020

New York, 23 April 2020 - The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, calls on all parties to conflict in Myanmar to urgently implement all necessary measures to protect children from hostilities, as recent numbers show a deeply concerning increase in child casualties in the first months of 2020. While data is still being collected, the number of children killed and maimed in the first three months of 2020 already amounts to more than half of the total of killing and maiming in 2019, and significantly surpasses the total number of child casualties for 2018.

Of particular concern is the number of children killed or maimed as a result of airstrikes, landmines, explosive remnants of war and crossfire in Rakhine and Chin states, where the conflict between the Government Forces (the Tatmadaw) and the Arakan Army has seen an unprecedented escalation in recent months. 

“I urge all parties in Myanmar to act on the Secretary-General’s global call for ceasefire and put an effective halt to hostilities, as the world is facing a joint battle against COVID-19. I welcome the ceasefires already announced by several armed groups in the country and call for their effective implementation,” said the Special Representative.

“In these challenging times, more than ever, humanitarian and child protection partners on the ground must be allowed to safely access the populations in need, especially children who are particularly vulnerable in times of conflict”, she added. She further condemns the recent attacks against health workers delivering life-saving aid to populations in need in Rakhine state.

This recent escalation in hostilities also resulted in an increase in incidents affecting schools and hospitals causing serious damage to infrastructure and loss of life. The Special Representative calls on all parties to protect the civilian character of schools and hospitals and to prioritize them as safe places for learning and urges the Government of Myanmar to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration.

She further calls on the Government to strengthen its collaboration with the United Nations on the development and signature of a joint Action Plan to end and prevent the killing and maiming of children and sexual violence against children, two violations for which the Tatmadaw is listed in the latest Secretary-General Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict (A/73/907–S/2019/509). She reiterates the willingness and availability of the United Nations to support the authorities in that regard.

The Special Representative reminds parties in Myanmar of their obligations under domestic and international law, including the new Child Rights Law which criminalizes all six grave violations against children. She calls on all parties to respect the principles of distinction and proportionality and to take all feasible precautions to avoid and minimize harm to civilians, including children, and civilian facilities. 

Media contacts

Fabienne Vinet
Communications Officer
Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
Tel: +1-212-963-5986

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