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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid