Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cyclone Orphans Take Low-Paid Work to Survive

Using a small oil lamp to seal the ends, a woman and
two children pack cheroots in to plastic bags in a small factory in Pegu,
58 kilometers (36 miles) north of Rangoon.
Sources said children orphaned by Cyclone Nargis
had migrated to the cities to find work. (Photo: AFP)

The Irrawaddy News

Many children orphaned by Cyclone Nargis are being employed in low-paid jobs in the Irrawaddy delta and Rangoon, according to monks in the region.

Monasteries throughout the region opened their doors to orphans, but a monk in Mawlamyinegyunn Township said children who lost their parents in the storm often preferred to live with adult survivors in their own communities, where they found work in the paddy fields and fish farms.

Other children who had lost their parents had migrated to the cities to find work in tea shops, small businesses and households, often encouraged by family members, the monk said. Some were as young as 10.

A senior monk in Mawlamyinegyunn said his monastery had sent 20 orphaned children to Phaungdawoo monastery in Mandalay, where they were being educated.

“There are so many children who desperately need care, and we are now trying to collect information and data about orphans so we can help them,” he said.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Monday that 428 children had been separated from their parents by the cyclone. More than 50 centers had been established to help them, said UNICEF spokesman Zafrin Chowdhury.

According to government figures, more than 84,000 people died in the cyclone and 54,000 are missing. The most vulnerable victims of the disaster were children, UNICEF said.

The International Labour Organization has expressed concern about the possibility that children may be forced to help in reconstruction work, and has warned UN agencies and relief workers of “the increased risk of incidences of forced labor, child labor, human trafficking and migrant labor as the authorities and individuals come to grips with the sheer size of the tragedy.”

Rangoon-based journalist Aung Thet Wyine contributed to this report.
--Read More: here

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