Occupation of schools by security forces in Myanmar is a serious violation of children’s rights

Joint Statement of Save the Children, UNESCO and UNICEF

19 March 2021

YANGON, 19 March 2021 – The occupation of education facilities across Myanmar by security forces is a serious violation of children’s rights. It will exacerbate the learning crisis for almost 12 million children and youth in Myanmar, which was already under tremendous pressure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing widespread school closures. Save the Children, UNESCO and UNICEF call on security forces to vacate occupied premises immediately and ensure that schools and educational facilities are not used by military or security personnel.

As of 19 March, security forces have reportedly occupied more than 60 schools and university campuses in 13 states and regions. In at least one incident, security forces reportedly beat two teachers while entering premises, and left several others injured. Other public institutions including hospitals have also been occupied.

These incidents mark a further escalation of the current crisis and represent a serious violation of the rights of children. Schools must be not used by security forces under any circumstances. Save the Children, UNESCO and UNICEF remind security forces of their obligation to uphold the rights of all children and youth in Myanmar to education as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Myanmar Child Rights Law, and the National Education Law and call on them to exercise maximum restraint and end all forms of occupation and interference with education facilities, personnel, students and other public institutions.

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UNICEF has been working with the Government and the people of Myanmar since 1950. In partnership with the Government and the civil society, UNICEF’s current focus of work aims at reducing child mortality, improving access and quality of education and protecting children from violence, abuse and exploitation. 

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