Children Affected by Conflict in the Borderlands of Thailand.

Children Affected by Conflict in the Borderlands of Thailand. By Kai Chen. Singapore: Springer, 2021. Hardcover: 88pp.

Children tend to be the most affected by war, which makes protecting children from the effects of armed conflict a moral imperative and an essential element to break the cycle of violence. Kai Chen's Children Affected by Armed Conflict in the Borderlands of Thailand contributes to our understanding of the causes and dynamics of child soldiering along the Thai-Myanmar border and in Thailand's Far South (where a Malay-Muslim insurgency has been raging since 2004), and discusses steps taken by the Thai government to confront this issue.

The book is comprised of nine chapters. The first three chapters engage with methodology, a review of child labour in history, and an overview of the nexus between child labourers, child soldiers and children affected by armed conflict. The fourth and fifth chapters examine the children exposed to armed conflicts on the Thai-Myanmar border and in Thailand's Far South. The next three chapters explore the Thai government's efforts to protect children from armed conflict and the obstacles it faces. The concluding chapter proposes alternative solutions to the problem.

The book provides a good background for readers to understand the effects of violent conflict between the Myanmar armed forces (Tatmadaw) and ethnic-based militia in Myanmar on displaced children on the Thai-Myanmar border. Some vulnerable children volunteer to be child soldiers while others are recruited by the Tatmadaw and ethnic militia groups. There are about 120,000 long-term internally displaced persons and refugees in camps along the Thai-Myanmar border. This figure includes displaced children who fled from Myanmar as well as those who were born in the refugee camps. To survive, many of these children become child labourers. Unfortunately, some of them go on to face even more severe exploitation in the form of forced indentured labour.

Chen stresses that peace and security in Myanmar is a precondition for the resettlement of children affected by armed conflict. He points to other resettlement concerns, including the challenge of identifying returnees and verifying their ages and other issues such as security, safety, landmine clearance and the provision of adequate housing. As armed conflict in Myanmar is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, he predicts the high levels of emigration from Myanmar to Thailand along the...

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