On the eve of the second session of the 21st Century Panglong conference, the United Nations called for a renewed effort to achieve peace in Burma so that some 2.2 million children affected by conflict will have a better future.
Children in war-torn areas of Kachin, Karen and Arakan states are suffering “poverty, lack of opportunity and the ever-present fear of violence,” according to UNICEF, the UN’s children agency, in a report titled Lives on Hold: Making Sure No Child is Left Behind in Myanmar.
Political, social and economic reforms are taking hold in Burma, but the challenges to improve the lives of children remain huge, UNICEF said.
Nearly 30 percent of all children suffer from moderate or acute malnutrition, and one in five children are not registered at birth, it said.
An estimated 67,000 women and children are living in more than 100 IDP camps in Kachin State; children and adults in Karen State are still affected by conflict, including the presence of landmines; while in Arakan State children need greater protection against violence and other deprivations, the UN said.
UNICEF called on the government to increase access to conflict areas for humanitarian organizations. The UN had not been given permission to deliver aid to around 40,000 displaced people in Kachin State and thousands of others could not be accessed in northern Shan State, according to the report.
It called on the government to revoke restrictions of movement imposed on communities in Arakan State and to address long-term deprivation in the area.
“Myanmar faces a real challenge in ensuring that children everywhere—and not just in urban areas—gain from the country’s rapid development,” said UNICEF executive director Justin Forsythe.