Burma’s Missing Children

According to the United Nations over 900 children each year in Myanmar are rescued from the hands of human traffickers.

While these lucky ones are reunited with their families, many are still missing.

As the country’s borders are opening up now that a reform process is under way – there are fears that this will enable human trafficking to rise.

NyiNgal speaks to one family who are still searching for their daughter…

K Khine hasn’t seen her daughter since July last year.

On the night she disappeared police raided her mother’s stall looking for illegal alcohol.

“At 9pm the police came to check for illegal alcohol, it was chaos. My daughter went out to buy snacks. Everyone was mixed up in the turmoil. Then we realized she was not with us. We looked for her everywhere. One person said someone took her on a carried bicycle. I haven’t seen her since.”

Her missing daughter, May Thu Khine was only four years old.

Her family called relatives– put missing posters around the streets and in the newspapers.

They also went to the police.

“That night we went to the police station to open the case. It was night time and they told us they could not do anything and to come back the next morning.. We are still searching. At first we thought someone did it as a joke and would bring her back. So we waited. But she never returned. I’m still searching.”

Hers is not an isolated story.

A United Nations body that works on human trafficking is concerned that with the opening up of Myanmar borders, more children are being trafficked.

Hundreds of children go missing in Myanmar each year.  Many are forced into the army or prostitution… others into forced labour.

Daw Ohmar EiEi Chaw is the National Project Director of UN Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking.

“The number of missing kids is neither going up nor going down in a dramatic way. But now we have a hot line for that, we can disclose more cases in the last two years.”

Myanmar has made some progress with its anti human trafficking effort.

The country signed a plan with the International Labour Organisation to eradicate forced labour by 2015.

Despite these efforts many human rights activists, including the United Nations, says more needs to be done.

“The authorities should be serious on the problems of human trafficking and missing children. It is a very important problem and should be handled in an effective way. “

According to the UN, Myanmar needs to put effective mechanisms in place to stop trafficking.

These include punishments for those caught and to focus more attention on internal trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation.

K Khine still believes her four year old daughter who has been missing for nearly a year will returned one day…  But for now she must focus on her son.

“Of course, I am really worry for my eldest son too. I take care of him very carefully. I don’t let him go out. I lost my daughter and I have suffered a lot. I can’t let it happen again.”

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