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Burmese form part of missing children in Thailand

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Usa Pichai

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) - Thai social workers have urged the government to find a solution for a large number of missing children less than 18 years in the country.

Bangkok-based, Information Center of Missing Person to anti-human Trafficking, The Mirror Foundation, released a report on Thursday, which revealed that the there are about 1,000 reported missing children in Thailand since 2005. Those who could not be found is about 63 per cent of a total of 1,600 missing, both children and adults.

The report noted that the situation of missing children in the country is bad and more complicated. "The reasons for going missing include abduction or misleading the children for sex trade or forced labour" and added that "a number of them were misled via internet communication."

The group urged related authorities including the Thai Royal Police, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social development and Human Security and media network to take appropriate action on this problem.

Thitima Meeparn, Head of the center told Mizzima that there are about 20 to 30 cases each year where Burmese families want to find their relatives who work in Thailand by coordination though migrant workers assistance organization.

"However, we expected the number to be higher because the total number of migrant workers in Thailand is very big and many move their workplace quite often. So, it's very difficult to find them," she said.

Thitima's center did not specifically record children from Burma separately but just told Mizzima that a number of them are stateless children (about 10-20 per cent from 1,000).

Thitima added that there are cases that aid organizations asking the center to find families for migrant children who were found while they were on the street or rescued from risky places.

"It's very difficult because these children were confused about details of their parent's workplace and houses," she added.

Mala, a Burmese woman working for a local NGO in Ranong in Thailand told Mizzima that parents of Burmese children in the area are also scared that their children would be abducted because last year some of migrant children went missing but there is no NGO or authority to follow up the case.

The group proposed to the authorities to solve the problem by setting up a government agency to process the notice of missing children and adults and follow up because recently, only non government organization are into this role and police should receive the notice from the family and follow up immediately in case of missing children.

According to Thai regulations regarding missing persons, they have to be missing for more than 24 hours, and then the police will accept complaints from the family. Normally, when police are informed about missing persons, they investigate to find them such as from clues, evidence and witnesses. Then they post announcements in the police station, local newspapers and radio. Now they also post it on Ministry of Social Development and Human Security website.

Actually, there is no Thai law that directly links the case of missing persons that include procedure of authorities in dealing with the case. The group noted that the Thai Royal Police should identify the terms and conditions of missing person's case to be a model for basic investigating.

In addition, local authorities and organizations such as police stations and schools should provide information and warning to parents in case there are abductions in the areas to lessen the problem.