Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .


Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


Subscribe to RSS feed

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

Children in Myanmar Are Political Football, UNICEF Has No Answer, Rohingya Ignored

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, May 10, updated May 11 -- While Myanmar wants off the UN's children and armed conflict list and the UN strangely praises them, three non-governmental organizations last week said that big problems remain, and spoke of Thai and Myanmar pressure on UNICEF to stay off of their border. Inner City Press asked about this pressure, and passed on to UNICEF the quote. Video here, from Minute 25:35.

   UNICEF's spokesman on May 6 said he would get an answer. The next day, he said that "both the Thai and Myanmar reps are en route from a meeting and so I have no answers yet but hope to by tomorrow. Just wanted you to know we have not forgotten your questions."

  Five days later, there is nothing. Children are the future, but in terms of explaining how it deals with pressure from repressive governments like Myanmar's, UNICEF is no better than its UN brethren.

   This is a problem or conundrum of the UN. Charged with defending children, it has to work with governments. So even the biggest recruiter of child soldiers in the world, Myanmar, gets treated with respect. The UN's expert on the problem praised the government last week. UNICEF promises a response, but provided none.

UNICEF's director, answer on NGO's allegation of Myanmar and Thai pressure not shown

  The NGOs were better. Watchlist had the courage to criticize UNICEF. Human Rights Watch, asked for its position on elections, promises to revert to Inner City Press with an answer and did, that the 2010 elections have no promise of effecting real democratic change inside Burma. This process is a clearly orchestrated process to ensure continued military rule with a civilian facade, the 2008 constitution ensures that. There is no possibility under present conditions that these elections can promise a more open Burma, or be in any measure a free expression of what people inside Burma want.

   Still, and this is telling, neither group had an answer on the problem of Rohingya, the multiply oppressed Muslims of Myanmar. The UN's envoy Ibrahim Gambari had said it is beyond his mandate. Watch List said, we can get that (info) to you, but has not followed up. Video here, from Minute 30:28. A group that is ignored not only by the UN, but even NGOs, is suffering indeed. We will continue on this issue -- watch this site.

Update of May 11 -- after the publication of the article above, five days after the critique was made and question asked, the following arrived from UNICEF, which we publish in full:

Subj: Answer
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 5/11/2009

I have received a response from my colleagues in Myanmar, and they advise that UNICEF Myanmar Field Offices covers all parts of the country including the border area. Children from the border area included in the 1612 reporting as well as ILO mechanism to monitor forced labour which includes underage recruitment. The present UNICEF coverage in Myanmar is considered adequate and there is no immediate plan to beef up presence.

  That's not what Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict and Human Rights Watch say...

Update of May 11, 6 p.m. -- while Watchlist answered the questions in real-time, it has provided the appreciated information below about the Rohingya, in response to the article above:

Subj: Follow up from Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 5/11/2009 5:13:29 P.M. Eastern Standard Time

Thank you for covering the launch of our report and sorry for not getting back earlier to you on the question of the Rohingya... In general, as we clarify in our methodology (p. ii), our report mainly focuses on the impact of armed conflict on children in Myanmar following our core mandate. In contrast, the situation of the Rohingya is mainly one of discrimination and neglect as a result of exclusion and discrimination by the Myanmar authorities on the basis of their ethnicity and religion. The Rohingya live under appalling circumstances as the Myanmar authorities deny them citizenship in their own country.

To alert to the dire needs of the Rohingya, we also further elaborated on their situation in our chapter on Refugees (p. 21):

Refugees in Bangladesh

Ethnic discrimination and religious persecution has caused 250,000 Muslim Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh since the early 1990s. Since 1982, the ruling authorities in Myanmar have refused to accept the Rohingya as Burmese citizens, turning them into stateless people in their own country, according to RI, “Rohingya: Discrimination in Burma and Denial of Rights in Bangladesh,” July 21, 2006. [The 1982 Myanmar Citizenship Law has had the effect of rendering the Rohingya stateless. Their status as citizens had already been downgraded under the 1974 Constitution.] Many are denied basic rights to freely move, work or marry without an official permission. At the same time, SPDC officials have exploited refugees for forced labor during the day and forced sentry duty at night without any form of compensation, according to RI.

While most of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have been forcibly repatriated to Myanmar, many returned to Bangladesh because the situation in Myanmar was not safe for them. Approximately 26,300 Rohingyas still live in two camps in the southern Cox’s Bazar area, according to the USCRI, World Refugee Survey 2008 – Bangladesh, June 19, 2008. An additional 100,000 to 200,000 live as unregistered refugees outside the camp areas, according to the same source. Since 2006, the Government of Bangladesh has allowed UNHCR to construct new shelters for refugees in both camps and allow other UN agencies and NGOs to run programs in the refugee camps. In addition, a very small number of Rohingya refugees have been able to resettle to a third country.

  We will continue to follow these issues, click here for today's coverage of the bloodbath in Sri Lanka and the UN Security Council's inaction, the Secretary General's delayed trip.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -