23 April 2021 - Global

ASEAN leaders must put Myanmar’s children at front and centre of talks

Save the Children is calling on leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to urgently safeguard the futures of Myanmar children when they meet for emergency talks on Saturday.

Since the military seized power in a coup on 1 February, at least 738 people have been killed[i] by armed forces, including 50 children, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP). At least 48 children are being held in detention, including a two and a four-year-old who have been detained since 5 April.

The violent fallout from the coup looks set to escalate into a full-blown humanitarian crisis. Save the Children warns that a looming economic collapse, combined with year-long school closures and an uncontrolled COVID-19 pandemic, threaten access to education, food and healthcare for millions of children.

Save the Children said:

At least 50 innocent children have lost their lives over the past months, showing a complete disregard for human life by armed forces. For them, these talks sadly come too late.

“But the lives of all children in Myanmar now hang in the balance. This is a pivotal moment – and the stakes couldn’t be higher. In addition to widespread violations of children’s rights, a collapsing economy and threats to their education, food and healthcare means the future for children in Myanmar looks bleak.

“Prior to the coup, more than 1 million people in Myanmar were already in need of humanitarian assistance. As the crisis continues, poverty and malnutrition are increasing every day.

“And like every emergency of this scale, the crisis does not stop at Myanmar’s borders. Thousands of refugees have fled into neighbouring countries already, sparking warnings that a humanitarian emergency could quickly spiral. There is every chance the numbers of refugees and displaced people will rise as the situation in Myanmar worsens, stretching resources in a region already reeling from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ASEAN and other regional governments – with international support – must work together to urgently address this crisis, putting the needs of Myanmar’s children first. This includes providing protection and support for children, their families and other refugees that seek safety in neighbouring countries. No-one should be pushed back to Myanmar where they are at risk of abuse, and aid agencies must be allowed unfettered access to new arrivals in their countries. 

“ASEAN leaders must also push the Myanmar military to bring an immediate end to these deadly attacks, before more children are injured or killed and the futures of many more are destroyed.”

For any questions, feel free to reach out:

Charlotte Rose: Charlotte.Rose@savethechildren.org;

Rik Goverde: rik.goverde@savethechildren.org

Media out of hours (BST), Media@savethechildren.org.uk+44 7831 650 409