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Woman from Myanmar and her 4 children sitting in a circle on the floor and eating with their hands from a round table.
27 June 2023

Growing up in a conflict zone

What civil war and decades of unrest mean for the children of Myanmar

The long-running conflict in this corner of South East Asia occasionally pops up in the news - but for the children living in Myanmar, it’s become a way of life. 

Myanmar is home to 53 million people, more than 135 ethnic groups, and one of the world’s longest-running civil unrests.

Tensions have been flaring since Myanmar’s independence from Britain in 1948 but in recent times unrest has increased. 

A woman from Myanmar wearing a surgical face mask pictured with her toddler daughter. The woman is carrying a bag of emergency aid donated by World Vision

Emergency aid

17 million people need emergency aid

One in four people – including five million children – are currently in need of humanitarian assistance. Child sponsors are ensuring that World Vision can work in 13 of Myanmar’s 14 states, providing basic food and other supplies to families who are unable to feed their children. 

But it doesn’t stop there. World Vision helps fight hunger and hopelessness by giving families the tools to change their circumstances, for good.

Through regular provision of supplies, families can meet their immediate household needs. Financial literacy and life skills training empowers parents to create new income streams, build savings and send their children to school to strengthen their future opportunities.

Together, these interventions also enable families to regain their dignity and contribute to their communities.

A boy from Myanmar passes a younger boy a glass of water

Children are most vulnerable

33,000 children at risk of death from preventable causes

The war in Ukraine has sent fertiliser prices soaring. Faced with failing crops, global inflation, and limited imports, more and more households and villages are reporting skipping meals.

Children are most vulnerable to the knock-on effects, facing severe malnutrition and a higher risk of wasting, stunting, avoidable illness and even death.

Thanks to sponsors, World Vision teams across the country regularly monitor the wellbeing of newborn babies and the health status of children.

With the regular provision of special nutritious food packages for pregnant women and new mothers, as well as additional health knowledge for parents and caregivers, communities are able to sustain and protect children’s health in their fundamental formative years.

Mother from Myanmar sat on the floor cooking, while her young son looks on

Child sponsor support

50% of population facing poverty

Conflict doesn’t just destroy buildings and homes, it destroys farming lands, livestock, and income.

People living in conflict can’t prioritise their crops or businesses, and so crop yields, incomes and food security plummet.

Faced with loss of food and income, households must make hard decisions in order to survive. The first step is often taking their children out of school to save money; the second is usually to cut meals.

You can sponsor a child in Myanmar, and you'll be helping families’ regain self-sufficiency so they no longer have to make those decisions and can provide for their children.

This can include providing livestock to begin regenerating incomes; supporting sustainable rehabilitation of agricultural land; establishing savings groups to teach, establish, and propagate financial literacy and access to small loans; empowering women with knowledge and training to earn an income; and training parents how to build a small business.

A girl and boy from Myanmar wearing school uniforms stand together in front of their school's entrance

Helping children learn

12 million children are falling behind in their education

Educating children is critical not just to give each child the best opportunity for the future, but also for a nation’s peace, stability, economy, and development – and yet it is often one of the earliest victims of conflict.

The double blow of the pandemic and the civil unrest in Myanmar has seen many schools close – either through loss of population or violence.

The result has been 12 million children missing education and falling behind, and the economic and other effects will be felt for generations to come.

We are setting up reading groups in cut off areas, distributing remote learning packages, training communities in non-formal education, and educating community members and leaders on the social and economic value of continuing education for as long as possible.

A group of children from Myanmar playing outside their school

Child protection

250,000 children are internally displaced

Conflict puts everyone at risk, but children in conflict zones are especially vulnerable. In Myanmar, a 2022 United Nations special report on the situation of human rights in Myanmar found that thousands of children had been caught up or even targeted conflict, protests and arrests, while child trafficking, child labour and early marriage is rising. More than 700,000 people, including 250,000 children, have fled their homes to escape the conflict, putting them at high risk of harm and exploitation.

Right now, World Vision is setting up and supporting community-based child protection systems in Myanmar to protect children, and raise awareness within communities about children’s rights – to be safe, to go to school, to not be forced into work or conflict– and the importance of defending them. Children themselves are in turn leading children’s groups to encourage other children to learn their rights and to lead solutions to the issues that affect them. In 2021 alone, more than 35,000 children joined in World Vision child protection training and 656 community-based child protection groups with almost 7,000 members were formed to help kids stay safe.

How Child Sponsorship helps children in Myanmar

Right now, World Vision child sponsors are standing with the world's most vulnerable children. Will you join us?

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