News / Asia

Report: Child Soldiers Still Fighting in Burma

Two young Karen soldiers guard his jungle camp of Mi Aye Bo in Burma's Karen state near the Thai border during a Karen New Year celebration, December 23, 2003.
Two young Karen soldiers guard his jungle camp of Mi Aye Bo in Burma's Karen state near the Thai border during a Karen New Year celebration, December 23, 2003.
VOA News
A new report says children are still recruited and used as soldiers in Burma, despite recent political reforms and calls by the United Nations to end the practice.

The report by the London-based Child Soldiers International says, although situation is improving, children continue to be in the ranks of the Burmese army, the border guard, and armed opposition groups.

The group says the government has not moved fast enough since signing an agreement with the U.N. last June aimed at identifying and releasing children from fighting. It also says two ethnic Karen rebel groups lack age verification procedures to prevent the practice.

Although the report acknowledges some human rights progress under the reforms implemented by President Thein Sein, it urges his nominally civilian government to give the issue of child soldiers the "highest priority."

Specifically, the group wants the U.N. to be allowed access to recruitment centers, military camps and training centers run by both Burmese government forces and rebel groups.

Nicholas Farrelly of the Australian National University tells VOA the problem is not what it was in decades past.  However, there is still room for progress by both the government and rebel groups.

"There are plenty of indications in the report that things are better than perhaps they were sometime ago, but there are also so many parts of Burma where we don't really know the situation with respect to the recruitment of child soldiers," he said.

Myra Dahgaypaw, director of the U.S. Campaign for Burma, says the problem is worse among government forces. She tells VOA the Burmese army is relying on child soldiers because it is struggling to keep soldiers from defecting.

"[The army] wants to keep the quota of 400,000 troops, but they don't have 400,000 troops. They have to keep recruiting people because a lot of times they end up leaving the army when they go to the frontline. They don't want to keep fighting anymore," she said.

Except for the Kachin Independence Organization, most major ethnic rebel groups have reached cease-fire agreements, in recent years, with Thein Sein's government, which has enacted a series of political and economic reforms since coming to power in 2011.

Child Soldiers International says the cease-fires could offer the opportunity for the safe release of children, as well as the prospect of protecting children from future association with the groups.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid