Where We Work
For over 60 years, a brutal civil war in southeast Asia has had devastating consequences on the freedom and well-being of innocent children caught in the crossfire. We’re at work in communities touched by the conflict in Myanmar (Burma) to ensure these children are protected and have all they need to reach their full potential.
Myanmar’s population of 50 million people have long suffered through decades of military rule and oppression. Despite the military dictatorship officially ending in 2011 with a transition to a nominally civilian government, conflict between the country’s myriad of ethnic groups and the Myanmar Army continues to this day, engaged in what is widely regarded as the world’s longest-running civil war.
people internally displaced
due to ongoing conflict
of children under the age
of 5 have stunted growth
of the population has no
secondary level education
Several ethnic groups have continued to face attacks from the Myanmar Army despite promised ceasefires from Myanmar’s President Thein Sein. This has led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people who are often left without food, shelter, medicine or other basic essentials. People are dying every day from malnutrition, with children particularly vulnerable.
Despite the much-touted economic reforms over the past few years, many across the country still face deep poverty and hardship, a contributor to Myanmar being a significant source of trafficked people, including children, throughout the region. The decades of heavy investment in military expenditure at the expense of healthcare and education has also left many without access to basic medical care and the opportunity to go to school. Distressingly, the long tradition of human rights abuses by the Myanmar Army, including rape, torture, forced labor, landmine usage, confiscation of land and pillaging of natural resources, all continue to be documented to this day.
“...sustainable peace [in Myanmar] must address the root causes of the conflict which lie in the denial of fundamental human rights.” - Yanghee Lee,
UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar
Thailand, which borders Myanmar and is one of its biggest trading partners, has been impacted by the civil war running within its neighbor’s borders. Despite being one of southeast Asia’s great economic success stories, many who have sought refuge from conflict here have faced much hardship and exploitation. Poverty is also a significant issue amongst Thailand’s rural population, with 88% of the country's 5.4 million poor living in rural areas.
people living in refugee camps
on the Thai-Myanmar border
million migrant workers
from Myanmar (estimated)
rank (lowest) for national efforts
to reduce human trafficking
Mass displacement of villagers in eastern Myanmar following attacks by the Myanmar Army in the 1980’s saw hundreds of thousands of people flee their homes across the Thai-Myanmar border to seek refuge. Whilst not being a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention, Thailand has allowed these refugees to live in a number of temporary camps along the border, but has left the responsibility of providing them with aid to international non-government organisations.
Thailand also has a significant migrant population, with estimates suggesting up to 3.5 million migrant workers, around 2.3 million of which are from Myanmar. Children are particularly vulnerable and at risk of being trafficked out of these migrant communities. Accusations of allowing human trafficking, slavery and gross human rights abuses saw Thailand receive a Tier 3 rank (the lowest) in the US State Department’s 2014 Trafficking in Persons report.
With the vulnerable and
the hard to reach.
We believe that no border or barrier should stop people from experiencing God’s love. That’s why we are where others have said we cannot go, working with vulnerable communities that are difficult to reach to bring practical solutions that build a future for children free from hardship and exploitation.
Refugees are forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. Over 120,000 refugees from Myanmar are confined to camps along the Thai-Myanmar border. They face limited educational opportunities and have no means of official employment, with dependence on outside assistance for the basic necessities to survive. Many children are also sent unaccompanied to the camps for protection or to attend school, creating a high demand for safe accommodation and the provision of basic needs.
Internally displaced people are those who are forced to flee their home but remain within their country's borders. With the majority of the estimated 640,000 internally displaced people in Myanmar forced to flee due to conflict, they are extremely vulnerable. Many face food shortages, inadequate shelter as well as lack of access to water, sanitation, healthcare and education, all of which severely impact the wellbeing of children and contribute to high malnutrition and mortality rates.
A migrant worker is someone working outside of their home country. Thailand’s estimated 3.5 million migrant workers are amongst the country’s poorest people, working in the lowest paid and most dangerous jobs including construction, manufacturing, cleaning and prostitution. Some migrant workers are in the country illegally whilst others have limited papers. This means that they are not entitled to the same rights as Thai citizens. They are often exploited and taken advantage of by their employers and officials, with children in particular at risk of being trafficked.
A stateless person has no recognised citizenship in any country. Over 810,000 people in Myanmar are said to be stateless, the vast majority of whom are Rohingya, often referred to as ‘the most friendless people on earth’. As well as facing persecution, arbitrary taxation, extortion restrictions on movement and limited access to education and healthcare, violent clashes have led to the displacement of over 140,000 Rohingya. They now reside in camps where conditions are so desperate, many have tried to escape by boat, ending up in the hands of traffickers or losing their lives at sea.
Life Changing Projects
See the three big ideas our support community has been investing in to ensure children living in these communities can experience free, full lives.See Our Projects