Hidden dangers

 

Hidden dangers

A young school-girl poses for a picture at a state school nearby IDP camps in Myitkyina, Kachin State, Myanmar.

© UNICEF/UN059873/Zar Mon

In Myanmar, landmines and unexploded ordnance present a daily risk of injury or death for children

Nine of Myanmar’s 14 States and Regions are contaminated with landmines and explosive remnants of war both from ongoing and past conflicts. The country has some of the highest mine accident rates in the world. On average, every three days a person is a victim of landmines, according to Myanmar’s Mine Risk Working Group. One out of every three victims is a child.

Aung Din, 12, displaced from Mung Ding Pa, collects water every morning for his household at the Phan Khar Kone IDP camp in Bhamo city, Kachin State, Myanmar, Wednesday 29 March 2017. Aung Din lives with his grandmother, mother and sister in the camp - his father was killed in a blast, most likely from a landmine while herding cattle, when fighting erupted between Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Myanmar Army in 2013. In 2017, working with the Government of Myanmar, UNICEF will strive to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable internally displaced children. Myanmar is experiencing three protracted humanitarian crises, each with its own set of complex underlying factors. In Rakhine State, inter-communal violence that erupted in 2012 continues to plague 120,000 internally displaced people spread across 40 camps or informal sites, as well as host communities. Eighty per cent of the displaced are women and children. In Kachin State, armed conflict that reignited in 2011 continues to impact communities caught in the crossfire between an ethnic armed group and the Myanmar army. Nearly 87,000 people remain displaced as a result, including 40 per cent who are in areas outside of government control. An additional 11,000 people remain displaced in northern Shan State, where a similar conflict broke out in 2011. Compounding the protracted crises are issues related to religious and/or ethnic discrimination, exploitation, chronic poverty, vulnerability to natural disasters, statelessness, trafficking and humanitarian access. In addition to the humanitarian crises in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states, Myanmar is impacted by humanitarian situations in other parts of the country, including natural disasters, health emergencies and small-scale displacements.

© UNICEF/UN061783/Brown

Aung Din, 12, on his way to bathe at the Phan Khar Kone IDP camp in Bhamo city, Kachin State. Aung Din’s father was killed in a blast, most likely from a landmine, while herding cattle, as fighting erupted between Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Myanmar Army in 2013.

Min Thiya, 10, shows a large scar from injuries he sustained two-years ago when he and a group of his friends were playing with unexploded ordnance that killed his friend So Aung Myo Win instantly and injured four others, including Min, at the Ann Ka Law village in Kayin State in Myanmar, Monday 3 April 2017. In 2017, working with the Government of Myanmar, UNICEF will strive to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable internally displaced children. Myanmar is experiencing three protracted humanitarian crises, each with its own set of complex underlying factors. In Rakhine State, inter-communal violence that erupted in 2012 continues to plague 120,000 internally displaced people spread across 40 camps or informal sites, as well as host communities. Eighty per cent of the displaced are women and children. In Kachin State, armed conflict that reignited in 2011 continues to impact communities caught in the crossfire between an ethnic armed group and the Myanmar army. Nearly 87,000 people remain displaced as a result, including 40 per cent who are in areas outside of government control. An additional 11,000 people remain displaced in northern Shan State, where a similar conflict broke out in 2011. Compounding the protracted crises are issues related to religious and/or ethnic discrimination, exploitation, chronic poverty, vulnerability to natural disasters, statelessness, trafficking and humanitarian access. In addition to the humanitarian crises in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states, Myanmar is impacted by humanitarian situations in other parts of the country, including natural disasters, health emergencies and small-scale displacements.

© UNICEF/UN061805/Brown

Min Thiya, 10, shows a large scar from injuries sustained two-years ago when he and a group of his friends were playing in the woods and found unexploded ordnance. Two boys were killed and four others injured, including his best friend Saw Ba Sun, at Ann Ka Law village in Kayin State.

Nan Maw Maw Kyi, a teacher at the local school who was one of the first at the scene when Min Thiya, 10, and his friend Saw Ba Sun, 9, and two others were injured when they were playing with metallic object that exploded and killed their friend So Aung Myo Win, at the Ann Ka Law village in Kyin State in Myanmar, Monday 3 April 2017. “We always tell the children: if you find anything strange or unusual in the forest, never touch it, but go and tell an adult.” says Nan Maw Maw Kyi, but she adds: “Unfortunately we can’t say for certain that something similar won’t happen again.” In 2017, working with the Government of Myanmar, UNICEF will strive to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable internally displaced children. Myanmar is experiencing three protracted humanitarian crises, each with its own set of complex underlying factors. In Rakhine State, inter-communal violence that erupted in 2012 continues to plague 120,000 internally displaced people spread across 40 camps or informal sites, as well as host communities. Eighty per cent of the displaced are women and children. In Kachin State, armed conflict that reignited in 2011 continues to impact communities caught in the crossfire between an ethnic armed group and the Myanmar army. Nearly 87,000 people remain displaced as a result, including 40 per cent who are in areas outside of government control. An additional 11,000 people remain displaced in northern Shan State, where a similar conflict broke out in 2011. Compounding the protracted crises are issues related to religious and/or ethnic discrimination, exploitation, chronic poverty, vulnerability to natural disasters, statelessness, trafficking and humanitarian access. In addition to the humanitarian crises in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states, Myanmar is impacted by humanitarian situations in other parts of the country, including natural disasters, health emergencies and small-scale displacements.

© UNICEF/UN061811/Brown

“We always tell the children: if you find anything strange or unusual in the forest, never touch it, but go and tell an adult” says teacher Nan Maw Maw Kyi, who was one of the first at the scene of the blast — a deadly reminder of a conflict which has run for over 60 years.

Saw Ba Sun, 9, the son of a pastor at the village church, was injured by unexploded ordnance two-years ago in Ann Ka Law village, Kyin State in Myanmar, Monday 3 April 2017. “It felt heavy – and the metal was hot,” recalled nine year old Saw Ba Sun, of the metallic object he picked up. With a sheepish look, he added: “Somehow, I knew it was dangerous.” As Saw Ba hesitated, another boy, So Aung Myo Win, snatched the metal thing out of his hand. As he raised his throwing arm, the device exploded, killing him instantly and injuring four others, including Saw Ba. More than two years on, memories of the accident are still fresh in this remote, rural corner of south-east Myanmar. Locals point out the unmarked spot, no more than 200 metres from the school, where they found the body of So Aung, and another injured seven year old, Aung Min, who died shortly after reaching the local hospital. When Saw Ba Sun’s father, Tar Leu, heard the explosion, his first thought was that Kayin’s long-running armed conflict had once more descended on the village. His next fearful thought was for his wife and two sons. Mr Leu, 43, is the pastor at the village church. He and his family returned to Myanmar in 2012, after spending years living in a refugee camp across the nearby border with Thailand. “My mother encouraged me to come back here,” said Tar Leu. “We thought it was safe, but it wasn’t.” Time and again, forces of the Myanmar Army and Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) sweep through the tiny community of 60 households, which lies in a contested area of Kayin state. Each time, terrified families hide in crude shelters that they have dug under each house. The unexploded grenade that led to the accident was probably left from clashes that had erupted weeks earlier. Conflict has long shaped the lives of people living in this region. Recurrent fighting between government forces and a range of Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs) has repeatedly displaced

© UNICEF/UN061802/Brown

“It felt heavyand the metal was hot. Somehow, I knew it was dangerous says Saw Ba Sun, 9, Min Thiyas best friend who was also injured in the blast.

The unexploded ordnance that led to the accident was probably a remnant from clashes that had erupted weeks earlier.

Aung Soe Min, 42, (right) who was injured in 2011 as a Myanmar Armed Forces soldier demining in Kayin State and (left) Daung Ja, 33 who was injured 2010 laying landmines while fighting with the Kachin Independence Army, at newly-opened physical rehabilitation centre in Myitkyina, Kachin State, Myanmar, Friday 31 March 2017. The centre is the first of its kind in norther Myanmar and was opened following an investment of 1.98 billion Myanmar Kyats (1.5 million US dollars) by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In 2017, working with the Government of Myanmar, UNICEF will strive to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable internally displaced children. Myanmar is experiencing three protracted humanitarian crises, each with its own set of complex underlying factors. In Rakhine State, inter-communal violence that erupted in 2012 continues to plague 120,000 internally displaced people spread across 40 camps or informal sites, as well as host communities. Eighty per cent of the displaced are women and children. In Kachin State, armed conflict that reignited in 2011 continues to impact communities caught in the crossfire between an ethnic armed group and the Myanmar army. Nearly 87,000 people remain displaced as a result, including 40 per cent who are in areas outside of government control. An additional 11,000 people remain displaced in northern Shan State, where a similar conflict broke out in 2011. Compounding the protracted crises are issues related to religious and/or ethnic discrimination, exploitation, chronic poverty, vulnerability to natural disasters, statelessness, trafficking and humanitarian access. In addition to the humanitarian crises in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states, Myanmar is impacted by humanitarian situations in other parts of the country, including natural disasters, health emergencies and small-scale displacements.

© UNICEF/UN061798/Brown

At a newly-opened physical rehabilitation centre in Myitkyina, Kachin State, Aung Soe Min, 42, (right) and Daung Ja, 33, are fitted with new prosthetic limbs. Min was injured as a government soldier while demining. Ja was injured while laying landmines for the Kachin Independence Army.

San San Maw, 33, (left) makes repairs to a prosthetic limb belonging to one of the centre’s customers at the Mine Victim Assistance Centre where she volunteers in Kawkareik, Kayin State, Myanmar, Sunday 2 April 2017. San San Maw is one of 30 volunteers working at the Centre. She lost her right leg when she trod on a landmine at the age of 13 while cutting bamboo on a mountain side. “Here we do minor repairs and adjustments for people with prosthetic limbs,” says Ms. Maw. “But my main reason for volunteering is to give other victims encouragement in the same way I needed encouragement after my accident.” According to Landmine Monitor, Myanmar has the third highest number of annual landmine casualties in the world, with an estimated 5 million residents currently living in areas clogged with the hidden weapons. In 2017, working with the Government of Myanmar, UNICEF will strive to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable internally displaced children. Myanmar is experiencing three protracted humanitarian crises, each with its own set of complex underlying factors. In Rakhine State, inter-communal violence that erupted in 2012 continues to plague 120,000 internally displaced people spread across 40 camps or informal sites, as well as host communities. Eighty per cent of the displaced are women and children. In Kachin State, armed conflict that reignited in 2011 continues to impact communities caught in the crossfire between an ethnic armed group and the Myanmar army. Nearly 87,000 people remain displaced as a result, including 40 per cent who are in areas outside of government control. An additional 11,000 people remain displaced in northern Shan State, where a similar conflict broke out in 2011. Compounding the protracted crises are issues related to religious and/or ethnic discrimination, exploitation, chronic poverty, vulnerability to natural disasters, statelessness, trafficking and humanitarian access. In addition to the humanitarian crises in Rakhi

© UNICEF/UN061798/Brown

San San Maw, 33, lost her right leg when she trod on a landmine at the age of 13. She now volunteers at a Mine Victim Assistance Centre, in Kawkareik, Kayin State, supported by UNICEF, where she repairs prosthetic limbs. An estimated 5 million residents in Myanmar live in areas littered with the hidden weapons.

Aung Din, 12, displaced from Mung Ding Pa, collects water every morning for his household at the Phan Khar Kone IDP camp in Bhamo city, Kachin State, Myanmar, Wednesday 29 March 2017. Aung Din lives with his grandmother, mother and sister in the camp - his father was killed in a blast, most likely from a landmine while herding cattle, when fighting erupted between Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Myanmar Army in 2013. In 2017, working with the Government of Myanmar, UNICEF will strive to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable internally displaced children. Myanmar is experiencing three protracted humanitarian crises, each with its own set of complex underlying factors. In Rakhine State, inter-communal violence that erupted in 2012 continues to plague 120,000 internally displaced people spread across 40 camps or informal sites, as well as host communities. Eighty per cent of the displaced are women and children. In Kachin State, armed conflict that reignited in 2011 continues to impact communities caught in the crossfire between an ethnic armed group and the Myanmar army. Nearly 87,000 people remain displaced as a result, including 40 per cent who are in areas outside of government control. An additional 11,000 people remain displaced in northern Shan State, where a similar conflict broke out in 2011. Compounding the protracted crises are issues related to religious and/or ethnic discrimination, exploitation, chronic poverty, vulnerability to natural disasters, statelessness, trafficking and humanitarian access. In addition to the humanitarian crises in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states, Myanmar is impacted by humanitarian situations in other parts of the country, including natural disasters, health emergencies and small-scale displacements.

© UNICEF/UN061857/Brown

The ongoing violence in Myanmar continues to impact children whose lives have been shaped by conflict and the widespread use of landmines. Without renewed efforts to achieve peace and social cohesion, children like Aung Din will continue to suffer the consequences.