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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
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.
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.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid