Burma: Children displaced by war face hunger, forced labor
In eastern Burma, schools have been forced to close due to military offensives, displacement, economic hardship, and human rights abuses. There are large number of stateless children in Eastern Burma and Thailand. The International Organization for Migration estimates that there are 200,000 migrant children in Thailand.
In an interview, one 17-year-old migrant said this about the regime, which is officially known as the State Peace and Development Council: “The SPDC burnt the place where I lived and many people were homeless and didn’t have enough food. I had to struggle to escape with my life. Because of SPDC cruelty I felt pain in the chest and my mind was always agitated.”
The lives of internally displaced children in Burma and migrant children in Thailand are terrible. They face difficulty in access to education and health care, and some live on the street or are forced into child labor.
There has been civil war in Burma for more than 50 years between the ethnic minority peoples and the central government. Human rights abuses are systematic and widespread, particularly in Burma’s ethnic areas. As such, they can be termed as both war crimes and crimes against humanity. Since 1996, about 3,300 villages have been destroyed or forcibly relocated. This has affected mainly members of non-Burman minorities.
Internally displaced children in Burma live in terrible conditions. They face problems related to:
• Forced relocation
• Forced labor
• Forced recruitment as child soldiers
• Food destruction
• Poor access to health, education and social service
As a result of war in Burma there are about 150,000 refugees in Thailand, which is home to an additional 2,000,000 migrant workers. In Eastern Burma, there are 500,000 to 600,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
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