By THE IRRAWADDY
A US-based human rights advocacy group, the Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, called on Wednesday for the UN Security Council to protect the tens of thousands of children "who are raped, abducted and recruited as soldiers" in Burma.
The group has released a 60-page study, “No More Denial: Children Affected by Armed Conflict in Myanmar (Burma),” to mark the first anniversary of Cyclone Nargis that hit Burma in May 2008 and "to draw urgent attention to the plight of children who have been subject to heinous violations of their rights every day since the cyclone and for decades prior."
The report documents killing and maiming of children, child soldiers, rape, abduction, forced displacement, attacks on schools, denial of humanitarian access and other violations. It also charged the UN Security Council with remaining largely silent despite evidence from UN and local sources of these violations.
According to the report, children as young as nine constantly face the threat of forced recruitment by security forces, non-state armed groups and civilians, even in public places such as bus or train stations and markets.
"Approximately one in five children in the eastern conflict areas dies before reaching the age of five, often due to denial of humanitarian assistance and medical treatment by the Myanmar authorities. This rate is comparable to some the world's deadliest conflict zones, including Democratic Republic of Congo and Afghanistan," the report said.
The Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict was formed in 2001 by a group of leading human rights and humanitarian organizations in response to the need for improved monitoring and reporting on violations against children. Today, these organizations form Watchlist's international Steering Committee.
—Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers
—International Save the Children Alliance
—Norwegian Refugee Council
—Women's Refugee Commission
—World Vision International
Last month, the Annual Report of the UN Secretary-General to the Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict was released. It reported that the Burmese military regime’s army and nine armed ethnic groups are still recruiting child soldiers.
The report accused both the Burmese junta and an array of armed ethnic groups, including ceasefire groups and active anti-government forces, of continuing to engage in the practice of recruiting child soldiers.