21 October 2015 – Unicef welcomes the joint statement released by Interfaith for Children, calling for the respect of religious freedom and tolerance as essential conditions for every child to grow and develop to her/his full potential, regardless of their or their parents' religions. The call was made within the inter-faith consensus that children's needs and rights must be put at the centre of the 2015 elections, and as attempts to promote religious divides for political gains are reported.

Through a joint declaration, the religious leaders of the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Muslim communities reminded the public and politicians that children represent around one third of the country’s population, therefore “what we are able to do for them now, will have a marked effect on their future,” the statement says.

“Religious leaders play an important role in advocating for children’s rights and earn public trust among their respective faiths,” said Bertrand Bainvel, Unicef Representative to Myanmar.

In the light of the upcoming election and in the face of alarming expressions of religious intolerance, Interfaith for Children called on the public and politicians to put children and harmony first in Myanmar’s historic 2015 elections, which should be held “peacefully, and with freedom and fairness”. In addition, the four religious leaders urged parents and guardians of any faith to bring peace, harmony, understanding and cooperation without discrimination towards any race, religion nor culture.

This is the first statement issued by Interfaith for Children since April 2014, when the religious leaders from four different faiths came together for the first time in Myanmar’s history in support of child protection, survival and education. Based on social and spiritual values, the partnership seeks to empower faith leaders to mainstream child survival, development and protection issues and solutions into religious dialogues and gatherings.

The Interfaith for Children, with Unicef and Ratana Metta Organization (RMO) support, is committed to the realisation of children’s rights and a tolerant society respectful of religious and ethnic diversity.

“Much of Myanmar’s future depends on what the Myanmar society will be able to do for children now, ” said Bertrand Bainvel, Unicef Representative to Myanmar. “The coming elections are the perfect moment not only to commit to new policies, goals and resources for children, but also to emphasise the values of peace and tolerance which are so essential to their harmonious development.”

Read the Interfaith for Children statement: http://www.unicef.org/myanmar/media_24781.html

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Notes for editors:

For further information please contact the Unicef UK Press Office on +44 (0)20 7375 6030 or media@unicef.org.uk

Interfaith for Children

Myanmar Interfaith for Children is an inter-religious platform formed in 2014 through the partnership of Ratana Metta Organization (RMO) and Unicef, and venerable leaders of four main religions in Myanmar. Through a joint declaration signed in April 2014, the platform has expressed its unequivocal commitment to the realisation of child rights and the building of a tolerant society respectful of religious and ethnic diversity.

Unicef in Myanmar

Unicef has been working with the Government and the people of Myanmar since 1950. In partnership with the Government and the civil society, Unicef’s current focus of work aims at reducing child mortality, improving access and quality of education and protecting children from violence, abuse and exploitation. For more information about Unicef and its work in Myanmar. Please visit: http://www.unicef.org/myanmar

About Unicef

Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.  

Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children. As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK. For more information please visit Unicef.org.uk