At Least 150,000 Children Have Been Forced to Flee Their Homes

Children are no longer safe in Myanmar. One year since the military coup in Myanmar began, 150,000 children have been forced from their homes due to violence. In the past two weeks alone, children have been killed in several bombings and raids by the military in Kayah state and Sagaing region.

The brutal tactics employed by the military in Myanmar are reminiscent of the atrocities committed against the Rohingya in 2017.

Here's what you need to know about the the military coup in Myanmar, including Save the Children's response.

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When did the military coup in Myanmar begin? 

On February 1, 2021, a coup was launched in Myanmar. People took to the streets to protest peacefully. In the weeks that followed, security forces began to open fire, "using live ammunition to shoot at unarmed protestors."

“The difficult situation for conflict-affected populations deserves special attention," Janti Soeripto, President and CEO of Save the Children said at the time, "particularly those from ethnic and marginalized minority groups across Myanmar, including displaced populations in Rakhine, northern Shan, Kachin and Kayin states. Children who live in camps often face precarious conditions and a very uncertain future.

What is happening with the military coup in Myanmar now?

One year after a military coup in Myanmar began, children are bearing the brunt of conflict.

"Over the past year, a shocking 150,000 children have been displaced across Myanmar, said Janti Soeripto. "That’s 150,000 children who are separated from their friends, their schools, and their homes."

“Children and their families are fleeing because they have no choice, and we are seeing them forced to hide out in jungles and forests and living in terrible conditions. Save the Children teams are doing what they can to provide urgent assistance, but they have very little access to food, clean water and healthcare, let alone education. Children on the move are at heightened risk of trafficking, abuse, recruitment into armed groups, injury and death. The horrific attack in January on an IDP camp shows that children in Myanmar are caught between a rock and a hard place.

What is happening in Myanmar's Kayah state?

Violence has particularly intensified in the southeastern state of Kayah in recent months.
 
In December 2021, the Kayah state was the site of a deadly attack, where at least 35 civilians, including four children and two Save the Children staff members died. The aid workers, both young fathers who were passionate about children’s education, were on their way back to their office after working on a humanitarian response in a nearby community when they were caught up in the attack. 
 
Violence has particularly intensified in the southeastern state of Kayah in recent months, where last week two teenage sisters were among those killed in the bombing of an IDP camp. Recent UN figures show 91,400 people in Kayah state have fled their homes since February 2021, but local reports earlier this year said the more accurate figure is much higher — more than half its 300,000 population.
 

How many people in Myanmar have fled their homes since the military coup began?

Recent UN figures show at least 405,700 people have fled their homes due to fighting within Myanmar since the military seized power almost a year ago, with that figure increasing by 27% in just the past month. Of the total number of people displaced across Myanmar, an estimated 37% are children, [i] many of whom are living outside in the jungle under makeshift shelters and vulnerable to hunger, illness and protection risks.
 

How are children being impacted by the military coup in Myanmar? 

Children in Myanmar have a right to grow up free from violence. Yet, tragically, children continue to be among the targets of fatal attacks. Girls and boys as young as 7 years old have been shot and killed in their own homes. 
 
In the past two weeks alone, children have been killed in several bombings and raids by the military in Kayah state and Sagaing region, including the bombing of a camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Kayah.[i] 
 
 

What are the long-term effects of the military coup in Myanmar on children? 

The psychosocial effects on children of the recent violence are alarming.
 
Many more children are suffering from the fear, stress, and loss that the violent crackdowns are causing. Parents are reporting that their children are having nightmares after hearing flashbang grenades and shooting.
 
These long-term effects of this crisis situation must not be underestimated. Many children and families will have difficulties in coping with the violence they have witnessed, which may lead children to be traumatized in the longer term.
 

How is Save the Children helping children and their families impacted by the Myanmar coup? 

Save the Children has now resumed the majority of its programs across Myanmar following the attack on December 24, 2021, and staff remain fully committed to helping the most vulnerable children in Myanmar, especially during this time of conflict and crisis.

Save the Children and its partners are providing support to children who have been harmed and their families where possible. This includes providing psychosocial support for children who have witnessed violence and developing resources to support the country’s growing mental health crisis. 

Updated January 29, 2022

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