Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore
NEW YORK, 28 March 2021 – “An 11-year-old boy, an 11-year-old girl, two 13-year-old boys, a 13-year-old girl, three 16-year-old boys and two seventeen-year old boys, all reportedly shot and killed. A one-year-old baby girl gravely injured after being struck in the eye with a rubber bullet. These were the latest child casualties on the bloodiest day in Myanmar since the military takeover on 1 February.
“In less than two months, at least 35 children have allegedly been killed, countless others seriously injured and almost 1,000 children and young people reported arbitrarily detained by security forces across the country. Millions of children and young people have been directly or indirectly exposed to traumatizing scenes of violence, threatening their mental health and emotional wellbeing.
“I am appalled by the indiscriminate killing, including of children, taking place in Myanmar and by the failure of security forces to exercise restraint and ensure children’s safety. As the Secretary-General just said, those responsible for these actions, which undoubtedly constitute egregious child rights violations, must be held accountable.
“In addition to the immediate impacts of the violence, the longer-term consequences of the crisis for the country’s children could be catastrophic.
“Already, the delivery of critical services for children has ground to a halt: Almost 1 million children are without access to key vaccines; almost 5 million are missing out on vitamin A supplementation; nearly 12 million risk losing another year of learning; more than 40,000 children are without treatment for severe acute malnutrition; close to 280,000 vulnerable mothers and children will lose access to cash transfers which are their lifeline and more than a quarter million children will lose access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene services.
“This loss of access to key services, combined with economic contraction which will push many more into poverty, puts an entire generation of children and young people in peril. They are already at risk of suffering profound physical, psychological, emotional, educational and economic impacts, potentially denying them a healthy, prosperous future.
“Security forces must immediately refrain from perpetrating abuses of child rights and ensure the security and safety of children at all times. Security forces should cease the occupation of education facilities. They must also protect all essential workers – including health workers and teachers – providing vital services for children and families.
“UNICEF’s commitment to children in Myanmar remains unwavering. After 70 years in the country, reaching all children including Rohingya and those from other minority groups with lifesaving services in times of conflict and crisis remains a top priority.
“We must not let down the children of Myanmar at this critical time, when their lives, wellbeing and future are at stake. We will always stand firmly by their side.”