Welcoming Myanmar ceasefire, UNICEF says accord must cover 'every child, wherever they live'

19 October 2015

While the recent ceasefire agreement between the Government of Myanmar and representatives of eight ethnic armed groups marks an historic step for children in Myanmar who have suffered from some of the longest running civil conflicts in the world, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) remains concerned for an estimated 1.8 million children who are not covered by the accord.

In a statement, UNICEF welcomed the signed agreement that gives high priority to the protection of children in armed conflict, noting that the agreement is “opening the door for a favourable environment in which children can grow and develop, and benefit from the same opportunities as other children in Myanmar.”

According to UNICEF, it particularly calls on parties to stop grave violations against children, including their use and recruitment in the armed forces, attacks on schools and rights to receive humanitarian assistance.

“The ceasefire agreement provides a useful framework that will help accelerate all actions to protect children in armed conflict, making all signatories more accountable and, thus, serving as a game-changer for children living in the areas affected by conflict between the signatories and the Tatmadaw,” said UNICEF.

The lives of millions of children in Myanmar have been affected by these conflicts with the disruption of basic services, such as immunization and education, as well as increased risk of recruitment and use of children by armed forces and armed groups.

However, the agreement does not cover all children, particularly those living in violent situations in Kachin and northern Shan, where continuing conflicts prevent them from accessing basic services.

UNICEF urged all parties still engaged in hostilities to “make every effort to end conflict and promote peace and development so that every child, wherever they live, can grow up in a united, peaceful and prosperous Myanmar.”

The agency has been working with the Government and people of Myanmar since 1950. In partnership with the Government and the civil society, its current focus of work aims to reduce child mortality; improve access and quality of education; and protect children from violence, abuse and exploitation.


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