Myanmar is in a time of continuing transition, providing new opportunities for the realization of child rights and wellbeing, but also many challenges. The country remains poor, many areas continue to be affected by long-standing conflicts and it is frequently exposed to natural hazards such as cyclones, earthquakes, floods, landslides, tsunamis and volcanoes.

Political and inter-communal conflict has triggered armed conflicts in Myanmar since the country’s independence in 1948. Armed groups remain in active conflict with the military and the situation in Myanmar continues to be dominated by the aftermath of the violence of August 2017 in Rakhine State, which led to the exodus of over 730,000 refugees into Bangladesh, 500.000 of whom are children and adolescents, and more than 400.000 internally displaced people. While there is a bilateral agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh, to-date no refugees have voluntarily returned. On-going conflicts in the Northern states continue to have humanitarian consequences including displaced populations. UNICEF has maintained a significant development and humanitarian programming component in these three states.

More than 460.000 children living in Myanmar are affected by conflicts or natural disasters and require humanitarian assistance.

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UNICEF Myanmar conducted a workshop with and for adolescents that was led by the Child Protection section and included partners within the areas of gender-based violence, Education in Emergencies, child protection and mine action. The workshop was used to discuss successes and challenges of the adolescent programme and to plan a new adolescent strategy. The adolescent programme is included as a key aspect of the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group and the humanitarian country team.

Previously, adolescent girls living in camps for internally displaced people in Rakhine State did not participate much in the Kit-related activities due to cultural practices. However, this was changed through advocacy efforts with the camp’s leaders and parents, by separating sessions for boys and girls, providing sessions for parents to increase their understanding of what the activities are about and what the adolescents are learning in them. The result is that adolescent girls now participate as much as adolescent boys, and sometimes more.

By combining the adolescent programme with EXCEL (a livelihood and 21st Century skills programme that is implemented in more advanced settings where support is strong), it is now possible to provide adolescents with a more comprehensive programme that supports them with life skills development for employability. The combination of programmes has also made it easier to explain the purpose of activities to parents, as employability is a more tangible result for them to understand.