Children of Migrants to Get Burmese IDs

By Nyein Nyein 6 August 2012

Peace negotiators claim that birth certificate will soon be provided to the Thailand-born children of Burmese migrants after a second successful meeting with Dr. Cynthia Maung at Mae Tao Clinic, in the Thai border town of Mae Sot, on Sunday.

Collaboration between Myawaddy Hospital, Mae Tao Clinic and Mae Sot General Hospital is also being discussed by Dr. Cynthia and Burmese volunteer doctors including Dr. Wai Wai Thar, the wife of Railway Minister Aung Min who acts as Naypyidaw’s chief peace negotiator.

The Burmese delegation included representatives from the Ministry of Health, doctors from Myawaddy and Mandalay hospitals along with Aung Min, Immigration Minister Khin Yi, Industrial Minister Soe Thein, Karen State Chief Minister Zaw Min and Wai Wai Thar, from the Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare Association.

Aung Min told a previous meeting that he will coordinate with Dr. Cynthia and his wife to discuss details of the process.

“We agreed on the formation of the patient transfer system as well as disease controls in the cross-border areas,” said Dr. Cynthia. Another important matter discussed was the “issuing of birth certificates for Burmese children born in Thailand,” she added.

“We come here to support [Dr. Cynthia’s] needs and we will collaborate with her,” Aung Min told journalists in Mae Sot. “Issuing birth certificate is really easy—we can just do it right away.”

According to the Committee for the Promotion and Protection of Child Rights, there were 20,661 children registered at Mae Tao Clinic between 2003 and 2011, while “tens of thousands more may be left behind due to a lack of knowledge among the migrant workers and the barriers of travelling without legal documents,” said General-Secretary Naing Min.

The clinic also raised the issue of staff being able to return over the border to provide healthcare in rural areas of Karen State, and the government ministers said they would support this.

Dr. Cynthia said that Mao Tao Clinic will continue working on some necessary projects even when migrant workers can receive full healthcare and treatment at Mae Sot or Myawaddy hospitals. But currently, “I do not see better services for migrant workers yet,” she said.

Community groups and Mae Tao Clinic are working together with the Burmese Immigration Department to help local migrant children with the details of implementation to be discussed in future meetings.

Ministers said the government will improve facilities at Myawaddy Hospital so it will be able to accept patients from Mae Tao Clinic. This second meeting focused on collaboration and finding practical solutions to unresolved problems, but did not cover funding issues.

Aung Min also met with Zipporah Sein, general-secretary of the ethnic rebel Karen National Union, in Myawaddy on Sunday morning before visiting Mae Tao Clinic in the afternoon.