Myanmar expert warns of ‘lost generation’ of children


Tom Andrews accuses Myanmar’s military of perpetrating “relentless attacks” on children since he took power in February 2021.

The world risks creating a “lost generation” of children in Myanmar unless it takes immediate steps to protect them from the violence of the military since it took power in February 2021, a United Nations human rights expert said.

“The junta’s relentless attacks on children underscore the generals’ depravity and willingness to inflict immense suffering on innocent victims in its effort to subjugate the people of Myanmar,” said Tom Andrews, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation. in Myanmar, in a statement this week.

He said children were not only caught in the crossfire of the military’s crackdown on opponents, but were also deliberately targeted in what he said amounted to crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Myanmar entered a crisis after the generals, led by Min Aung Hlaing, overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi and took power. The coup sparked mass protests and a popular uprising in which some citizens formed rebel groups to fight the military.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a monitoring group, nearly 2,000 people have been killed by the military since the coup. More than 11,000 are incarcerated.

According to Andrews, the military killed at least 142 children and arbitrarily detained more than 1,400.

At least 61 children, including some under the age of three, are reportedly being held as hostages, while the United Nations has documented the torture of 142 children since the coup.

“I was given information about children who had been beaten, stabbed, burned with cigarettes and subjected to mock executions, and had their fingernails and teeth pulled out during lengthy interrogation sessions,” Andrews said.

The UN expert said the attacks on children showed that the international community’s response to the coup had failed.

“States must take immediate coordinated action to address an escalating political, economic and humanitarian crisis that puts Myanmar’s children at risk of becoming a lost generation,” he said, urging more pressure on leaders of Myanmar. the coup and on stronger measures to curb the military’s ability. to finance atrocities.

“States should pursue tougher targeted economic sanctions and coordinated financial investigations. I urge Member States to commit to a dramatic increase in humanitarian aid and unequivocal regional support for refugees.”

Countries like the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom have imposed sanctions on the coup leaders and on some parts of the military’s sprawling business empire. In February, the European Union extended its measures to the state-owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), which is believed to be a lucrative source of revenue for the military, and civil society organizations are urging the United States to follow suit. follow.

Andrews noted that the international community had allocated only 10 percent of the funds needed to implement the Myanmar Humanitarian Response Plan 2022, and as a result, life-saving programs for children had to be suspended.

The UN estimates that some 7.8 million children are out of school as a result of ongoing violence in Myanmar, while tens of thousands have missed routine vaccinations and other essential health care due to the collapse of the public health system.

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