The UN on Tuesday called for the protection of children from the Myanmar military junta’s brutal attacks which “constitute crimes against humanity.”
Tom Andrews, UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, issued a report saying that at least 382 children have been killed or maimed by armed groups since the coup last year.
“The rights of children in Myanmar, like children everywhere, must be respected and affirmed, starting with the basic right to live. But in Myanmar, the rights of children and families are under siege. Children are not only caught in the crossfire of an illegal military junta’s war against the people of the nation, but they are also targets,” the report said.
The report recommended UN member states to coordinate efforts to adopt operational procedures to allow urgent and timely humanitarian responses and shift from restricted grants to core funding whenever possible.
“After nearly a year and a half of escalating human rights violations and steadily deteriorating conditions, particularly for Myanmar’s children and families, it is clear that the international community’s response to the deepening crisis in Myanmar has failed. A change of course is needed,” it added.
Myanmar’s children will become a “lost generation” without a prompt return to the path of democracy and concerted remedial action, it said.
“The junta’s violent assaults on children, which are documented in this paper, are part of its ongoing widespread and systematic attack on the people of Myanmar and likely constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes,” it added.
Military attacks on civilian populations have displaced more than 250,000 children, who join the roughly 130,000 children in protracted displacement and the more than half-million child refugees from Myanmar in neighboring countries, it added.
Soldiers and police officers have tortured at least 142 children since the coup, according to reports received by the UN, it added.
Noting that some 7.8 million children remain out of school due to the coup, it said the military and other armed groups are responsible for attacks on educational facilities, and both have occupied schools, ensuring the politicization and militarization of educational infrastructure.
“The situation for Myanmar’s students is unlikely to improve so long as the junta remains in control of the education system,” it added.
The military’s coup was met by mass civil unrest as people protested the restoration of military rule in Myanmar. The junta cracked down violently on protests as the UN repeatedly warned the country had descended into civil war.
Since February 2021 when the military took power, junta forces have since killed nearly 2,000 people in a crackdown on dissent, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a local monitoring group.