Kids facing crisis in Myanmar

MYANMAR'S government is jeopardising the future of an entire generation, with children being denied educational opportunities and basic health care, an international labour union said in a report. 

The Belgium-based International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICTFU) said the “catastrophic economic situation'' in Myanmar had forced the “vast majority'' of parents to rely on their children to work to help support their families. 

“The worst forms of child labour - whether in the army, the construction industry, domestic work, the mines or elsewhere - are present throughout Burma,'' it said. 

The 30-page report, “Growing up under the Burmese dictatorship,'' was released on Aug 8 to coincide with the 15th anniversary of a Myanmar military crackdown that killed thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators.  

“For hundreds of thousands of Burmese children, access to a school and good health care will remain a dream unless and until the military regime radically changes its policy,'' the report said. 

In 1998 and 1999, only 7% of Myanmar's budget went to education while 50% was for the military, ICTFU said, citing a Unicef report from 2001. 

The health situation, it said, was no better, with most premature deaths arising from a lack of medical attention and an inability by health care workers to fight diseases like pneumonia, malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS. – AP  

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