Myanmar children
Boys search for useful items among the ashes of burnt houses after fire destroyed shelters at a camp for internally displaced Rohingya Muslims in the western Rakhine State near Sittwe, Myanmar, on 3 May 2016Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters

As many as 150 children under the age of five die daily in Myanmar, the UN children's agency Unicef said in a report on Tuesday (23 May).

The military handed over power to a nominally civilian government in 2011 and a process of reform has been underway, opening the poor nation up to foreign investors.

While political, social and economic reforms have begun impacting children's health, education and protection, more than half of Myanmar's children still live in poverty. Children represent 34% of Myanmar's 53 million people.

According to statistics provided by Unicef, "nearly 30% of all children under five suffer from moderate or severe malnutrition" and "an estimated 2.2 million children still need peace: restrictions on freedom of movement and the discrimination they face prevent thousands of children in Rakhine State from accessing adequate health care, good nutrition and education."

"Myanmar faces a real challenge in ensuring that children everywhere – and not just in urban areas – gain from the country's rapid development," said Justin Forsyth, Unicef's deputy executive director.

"There is a risk that many children and their families are excluded. This is especially the case for poorer children living in remote areas or trapped in situations of tension and conflict."

International attention has mostly been focused on the Rakhine State, where "120,000 internally displaced people continue to live in camps following the outbreak of intercommunal conflict between ethnic Rakhine and Muslims in 2012, which displaced them from their homes."

Many have taken refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh after multiple attacks were launched on border guard posts in October 2016, prompting a large-scale security operation from the government.

While Rakhine State has received a majority of the coverage, Unicef also highlighted the situation in other conflict-affected areas, including Kachin State, Shan State and the South-East and called on "all parties to the conflict to immediately allow humanitarian assistance to reach children affected by ongoing violence, and for an end to grave violations against children. The laying of landmines by all parties to the conflicts must end, and mine clearance work should start wherever possible."