Myanmar Update: Rohingya Children at Risk of Disabilities and Enslavement

SAIRI Report Finds Over 178,000 Rohingya Children at High Risk of Multiple Disabilities and Enslavement


16 July 2015


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SOURCE SAIRI Post-doc Multiversity for the United Nations MDGs.

– The Global Community, UNICEF, and WHO Urged to Take Prompt Action – 1stSituation Report on ‘Rohingya Children’, SAIRI Research Initiative. 

As a consequence of the dreadful, harrowing outrages committed by riot groups in Burma’s Rakhine state, some 178,000 children belonging to the Rohingya minority are at high risk of mental, as well as physical, abnormalities, according to SAIRI’s situation report on the Rohingya crisis. A ‘three-fringed state of detention’ has been constituted by: 1) the state-managed detention in so-called custodial campsites; 2) the trafficker-run hostage camps; and 3) prison sites accumulated by smugglers. Tens of thousands of citizens have been restrained in this cramped, three-fringed state of confinement where, besides women and the elderly, it is the children who are especially vulnerable to enslavement, with undescribed numbers already having been sold on, notifies the report, which focuses on the children trapped in this emergency situation. SAIRI now calls on the UN, interregional hierarchies and the global community to mount an urgent response at the most ‘vulnerable hour of this humanitarian emergency.

It is estimated that between 13,000 and 20,000 children are crowded within these isolated, squalid camps where they are sub-humanely dealt with like ‘farm animals’. Not only are people being denied access to public services from inside the camps but they are prevented from leaving the area to seek emergency medical aid, even in the case of women in labour, and children.

Some 15,000 to 18,000 older as well as younger children have resorted to fleeing off the Bay of Bengal, often on rickety boats that end up adrift and stranded in the Andaman Sea. There are many recorded incidents of enslavement, with new research revealing the likelihood that tens of hundreds more children will be or have already been sold as slaves, after having been held hostage and tortured in jungle precincts and at other hostage sites. The boys are sold for forced labour and the girls into prostitution.

Background to the Crisis

In the wake of dreadful inter-ethnic violence, sparked by decades-long communal hatred that was left to simmer, eventually re-igniting in 2012, mass atrocities spread and engulfed the western Rakhine state of Burma, where the majority of the 1.3 million Rohingya are situated. A wave of hate-speech incited riot groups to set fire not only to homes, shops and yards but to complete towns and, in certain instances, entire villages of Rohingya people were reportedly burned to the ground.

The contempt for basic human rights across the state has reached such a level that sexual assaults, systematic use of rape, street riots, urban brawling, arbitrary arrests probably culminating in unlawful killings, domestic violence, looting of shops as well as homes, sequential kidnappings, forced labour and mind-numbing street barbarism are now well-documented in UN data-records and the annals of other rights groups and dependable sources including Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International, Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, Médecins Sans Frontières, U.S. Refugees International, and the BROUK.

Unsurprisingly, the people of this long-suffering oppressed minority have begun to flee in haphazard way. Finding themselves caught in a cant-live-cant-leave situation, many feel they are left with no option other than to risk their lives in perilous exodus, ignorant of whether they will end up as an ‘object of prey for the traffickers or collateral damage for the naval security forces.

More often than not, the haphazard nature of their fleeing leaves many children separated from their parents, and desperately alienated from everything that is familiar to them.  

“Among this long-suffering minority and destitute populace there are disabled children, those who have lost their parents or been detached from their siblings or relatives,” notes the SAIRI report.

It’s worth noting here that many of the media correspondents and journalists, along with the rights groups’ reporters, are forbidden from entering the victims’ site. In some incidents, numerous media correspondents and investigators have been forced to hand over their cameras and memory cards with a cautionary note that “they would not try to go to these sites again.”

Ireland’s eminent analyst, researcher and human-rights defender, Mary Lawlor, marks in her report on Rohingya’s ongoing persecution issue:

“The world is aghast at the fact that up to 8000 members of the Rohingya people of Myanmar have ended up adrift in leaky overcrowded boats having to fight for food and being forced to drink their own urine.

“They have been shipped from port to port while the governments of ThailandMalaysia and Bangladesh argue over who is responsible for them and the government of Myanmar acts as if the problem is nothing to do with it.

“The real scandal is that almost 1 million people can be denied their right to citizenship in Myanmar and held in what are effectively prison camps under armed guard…….The roads in and out of the camps are blocked by armed guards and the Rohingya cannot leave the area even to seek medical help for women going into labour,” asserts Lawlor.

Concluding Plea  

SAIRI, by means of its report-testimony, hereby supplicates to the collective conscience of the world that:

“These effectively ‘stateless’ and ‘restless’ entities-the Rohingya children – are on their knees before the collective conscience of the international community. These glimmering flowers are being reduced to dusky coffins, floating on the Andaman Sea. The world is a global village; we are inhabitants of the same planet to which they belong and upon which they are being persecuted, thrashed and beleaguered. And if we fail, therefore, to respond at this vulnerable hour, or if the global community continues to shy away from taking a ‘moral stand’, there can be no more justifiable reason for the pursuit of a humane society” pleads the SAIRI report’s principal investigator, Professor Dr. Qadhi Aurangzeb Al Hafi.

“We have to see the resolution of the Rohingya children’s crisis as a ‘Moral Imperative-if not a legal requisite,” urges Prof Qadhi A.Z. Al Hafi.

Professor Dr. Qadhi Aurangzeb Al Hafi has long been working for children in disastrous emergencies and cataclysmic situations. Dr. Aurangzeb Hafi was the prime investigatory head of the projects concerning the disabledpopulation of refugee camps in Sri Lanka, following the Asian Tsunami of 2004. He also maintained technical liaisons with the UN and other concerned quarters thereof.  

Copyright: Newswire 2015

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