t is with profound sadness that we are confirming today that two members of Save the Children’s staff were among at least 35 people, including women and children, who were killed on Friday 24th December in an attack by the Myanmar military in Kayah State, in the east of the country.
The two staff were both new fathers who were passionate about educating children. One was 32, with a 10-month-old son, and had worked at Save the Children for two years, training teachers. The other, 28, with a three-month-old daughter, joined the charity six years ago. They are not being identified for security reasons.
The men were on their way back to their office after working on a humanitarian response in a nearby community when they were caught up in the attack. The military forced people from their cars, arrested some, killed many and burnt the bodies.
Inger Ashing, Chief Executive of Save the Children, said:
“This news is absolutely horrifying. Violence against innocent civilians including aid workers is intolerable, and this senseless attack is a breach of International Humanitarian Law. We are shaken by the violence carried out against civilians and our staff, who are dedicated humanitarians, supporting millions of children in need across Myanmar.
Investigations into the nature of the incident are continuing. We are doing everything we can to ensure all our staff and the families of the victims get the support they need after of this devastating incident. This is not an isolated event. The people of Myanmar continue to be targeted with increasing violence and these events demand an immediate response.
The UN Security Council must convene as soon as possible to set out the steps they will take to hold those responsible to account. Member states should impose an arms embargo, including a focus on limiting the airstrikes seen over recent days. The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) must also convene an urgent meeting to review and action the ‘Five Point Consensus’ agreed in April which calls for an immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar and for the ASEAN Special Envoy to help mediate a diplomatic solution. These steps are urgently required to protect children and humanitarian aid workers.
Our organisation is in a state of grief for two beloved, irreplaceable colleagues whose deaths represent a loss for the children of Kayah and Myanmar.”
Save the Children has been working in Myanmar since 1995, providing life-saving healthcare, food, education and child protection programmes through more than 50 partners and 900 staff across the country. We have temporarily suspended our operations in Kayah, Chin, and parts of Magway and Kayin following this incident. However, we remain fully committed to helping the most vulnerable children in Myanmar, especially during this time of conflict and crisis.
Save the Children exists to help every child reach their full potential. In the UK and around the world, we make sure children stay safe, healthy and keep learning, so they can become who they want to be.