Burma rejects child beggar repatriation

Burma’s embassy in Kuala Lumpur has denied financial assistance that would return home six Burmese child beggars detained in Malaysia’s Tanah Merah immigration camp since July last year.

Officials from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) met with Burmese embassy and Malaysian immigration officials after reports of the plight of the children were broadcast by exiled Burmese media earlier this month.

The children, who range from 10 to 14 years old, had been trafficked to Malaysia from Rangoon, Irrawaddy and Mandalay divisions last year via overland and air routes.

Aung Kyaw Satt, secretary of the Burmese exiled National League for Democracy-Liberation Area party in Malaysia, which has urged UNHCR assistance for the children, said the Burmese embassy officials in the meeting agreed to given credentials that they were Burmese nationals, but denied them financial cover for their return to Burma.

He added however that the embassy officials “guarantee that nothing will happen to them when they go back to Burma”.

Reports have also emerged of an alleged broker said to be working with the Burmese embassy who asked for 2000 Malaysian ringgit ($US625) from the children to send them back home.

A Burmese national in Malaysia who has been assisting the children said that “they told him they couldn’t afford the money and never saw him again”.

The families of two of the children, 10-year-old Kyaw Thu Linn and 12-year-old Aye Mya Htwe, were reportedly duped by traffickers into handing over their kids who were promised work in Rangoon, a source close to their family said.

As money began to be sent by them, via traffickers, to the family, the mother handed over her eight-year-old son; unbeknown to her, he was also taken to Malaysia. The boy is now believed to be missing in Malaysia and the family has not been able to contact him.

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