Thursday, September 9, 2010

Child Beggars Increases in Western Burma

Maungdaw: The number of children begging for food has increased this rainy season in the western border town of Maungdaw as many poor families in the area are facing starvation, said one monk from Maungdaw.

The monk said, "Recently, the number of child beggars has widely increased in Maungdaw. About 50 children come to my monastery every day to ask for food. At the beginning of the rainy season, there were about ten children asking for food, but now the number has increased to 50."

Most of the children are from the model villages that have been set up by the military government in the western border area to be settled by ethnic Burmans from Burma proper.

"Most of the children are from the model villages located near Maungdaw. They come to the monastery every morning to ask for food. We donate food every day after our lunch, before noon," the monk said.

According to local sources, many families in several model villages are facing hunger after they have failed to find a regular income or jobs. The parents can not provide daily food to their children so the children visit the monasteries nearby to ask for leftover food.

A businessman from Maungdaw said that the child beggars are not just asking the monks for food, but are also begging from other residents in Maungdaw, adding that, "many child beggars can seen everywhere in Maungdaw at the present."

Some elders from the model villages also come frequently to monasteries in Maungdaw to ask for food whenever they do not have enough food at home, said a source.

The authority has brought many model villagers from Burma proper to settle on the western Burmese border on promises they will develop good livelihoods. The government provides the model villagers with paddy farms, cattle, and other necessary equipment to help them establish their lives in the area.

However, the model villagers are unfamiliar with the area and are unable to successfully run their business or trade in the area due to lack of skills and experience. Because of that, many model villagers face hunger every rainy season and their children have to beg for food from the monasteries and residents in order to survive.


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