The UN Security Council has called on the authorities in Myanmar, including the army, to end the violations of children’s rights, which are in a highly vulnerable situation in the Southeast Asian country.
The Council’s working group on children and armed conflicts, which Belgium has been chairing since January, has adopted conclusions on the violation of children’s rights in Myanmar, the Belgian Department of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday.
The Security Council called on Myanmar’s leaders, including the military, to put an end to the violations and avoid new ones, according to the conclusions, adopted by consensus, and for which Belgium led the negotiations.
In their conclusions, Council members also recommended the launch of “independent and impartial” investigations so that the perpetrators of the violations may be held responsible and called on Myanmar to take measures in collaboration with the United Nations.
UNICEF estimates that this year, 460,000 children are directly affected by conflicts or natural disasters in Myanmar and need “urgent humanitarian assistance”. More than half (55%) live below the poverty level, and barely one in four have access to sanitary facilities. In Myanmar, infant mortality (under-fives) is one of the highest in Southeast Asia, with over 50 deaths for 1,000 births. Over two million Burmese aged 5 to 17 years have no access to schooling.
Moreover, the displacement of populations, particularly people from the Muslim Rohingya minority, forced to seek refuge in camps in Bangladesh, places children in a vulnerable position. Last year Plan International highlighted the plight of these children, particularly unaccompanied minors and teenage girls. It found, in a survey, that 72% of the girls were deprived of an education. Many of the survey’s young respondents described a daily lot of hunger, rape, kidnapping and forced prostitution.
In early July, the UN Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict had already adopted similar conclusions on the situation of minors in the Syrian conflict.
Belgium intends to keep playing a pioneering role in the fight against the violation of children’s rights in armed conflict. Similar conclusions on Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Central African Republic will be the subject of negotiations in the coming months in this working group chaired by Belgium.