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

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora