The military coup has destroyed the lives of large sections of Myanmar’s population. Its impact on children has been particularly devastating.
Even before the February 2021 coup, children in Myanmar were severely impacted by poverty; only 60 percent of children were enrolled in secondary schools, and just 37 percent among lower-income groups. The coup has worsened the situation for the country’s children.
According to a report issued in December last year by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which monitors human rights abuses by the military, as many as 267 children have been killed in the junta crackdowns since the coup. The international aid organization Save the Children estimates that another 520,000 children have been forced to flee their homes in Myanmar due to the conflict precipitated by the military takeover. In January, UNICEF assessed that around 17.6 million people, including 5.6 million children, are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Since the coup, attacks on villages, towns, schools, and hospitals have increased at an alarming level. In July, U.N. agencies claimed that restrictions on humanitarian access have increased in many states and regions across Myanmar. Information gathered by The Diplomat from the visit of this correspondent to some areas in Chin State and Sagaing Region revealed that a large number of children are traumatized by the fighting. Their lives in the IDP camps, where access to healthcare facilities is inadequate, is difficult.
Functionaries of resistance groups, whom I met in the course of my travels in Myanmar between January and March of this year, said that many children along with their families are staying in hideouts in the forests of Sagaing Region. Many of these children had walked long distances from their homes, which were either bombed or set ablaze by the regime forces.
Especially in Mindat and Kantpetlet townships in Chin State, many children have had to duck for cover in trenches occasionally when warnings of impending aerial bombing attacks are received.