(WNN) Denver, Colorado, U.S., AMERICAS: The United Nations agency for children, UNICEF, is urging all waring parties in Myanmar, also known as Burma, to “put an end to violence” as they focus on the plight of children under conflict conditions. In Myanmar’s Rakhine region severe clashes between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims continue as those at the bottom of Burmese society, its women and children, continue to suffer.Describing the clashes that began to accelerate last May and June 2012 to be ‘inter-communal’, UNICEF has worked continuously with an office in the Burmese region since 1950.
Myanmar government officials have declared the region to be in a ‘State of Emergency’ on-and-off since March 2013. An unverified report by State-owned Myanmar media in 2012 conveyed that the heart of the conflict began in the town of Meiktila after a heated dispute between a Buddhist customer and the owner of a Muslim-owned gold shop broke out, but this story has never been fully corroborated.
The expanding violence that hit hard in Meiktila in 2012 was not a simple or short-term matter. Secular discrimination and hatred has been on the rise decades before as Burmese natives have wrestled with religious differences under ethic identity inside the region. Continued violence has now made a marked resurgence as national attempts to move closer to a fully democratic state have begun.
During the three day rampage in March 2013, the violence is said to have also involved Buddhist monks. At that time entire neighborhoods were destroyed as burned bodies were photographed by journalists.
Today an estimated 140,000 displaced people, most Rohingya Muslims, have now lost their homes. Many have fled to make-shift camps with deplorable conditions; all due to continued intense violence in the country over the last year. Tens of thousands of other Rohingya’s have fled by boat, outlined the United Nations in a July 2013 release.
Describing the events as a “disturbing” humanitarian plight, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said that the process toward peace should not be one-sided. It must come through concerted efforts of cooperation between the government military and ethnic forces.
“Peace and national reconciliation with armed ethnic groups remains a pressing priority,” added the UN Secretary General.
In the meantime the impact on children, who need protection and aid, is ongoing says UNICEF. The organization’s main goal in the region is to protect and further children’s rights to survival.
“In the name of Myanmar’s children, now is the time for this violence to end,” said UNICEF Representative Bertand Bainvel recently from his office in Yangon. “Hate messages and inflammatory propaganda just perpetuate the cycle of violence, and it is children who suffer.”
The most recent sectarian violence has risen again since the beginning of October 2013 as numerous reports of violent clashes in the towns of Pauk Taw, Me Kyun, Tha Buy Chain and Shwe Hlay have been made. Destruction of up to 110 homes, along with deaths, has occurred.
This violence located in the Thandwe region is also expected to cause a surge of displaced families.
“When violence drives people from their homes, children who are displaced and those in the host communities suffer,” outlined UN Representative Bainvel. “Displacement puts children at greater risk of family separation and domestic violence, they miss out on schooling and too frequently they experience physical and emotional damage.”
“Peace-building and reconciliation activities must be prioritized if Myanmar’s children are to have the future they deserve, and to which they have a right,” Mr. Bainvel continued.
Stability with peace is vital to conditions for children on-the-ground, conveyed UNICEF. According to reports recent deathly clashes in the southwest coastal Thandwe region has now left women and children hiding in the mountains away from the coastline.