May 14, Sydney Morning Herald

Child traffickers are targeting the youngest and most vulnerable survivors of Burma's catastrophic cyclone and two suspects have already been arrested, the UN said.

The children, among up to two million people struggling to survive without enough clean water, food or shelter in the aftermath of the storm, were approached last week in the main city Rangoon, it said.

"A broker came to a shelter and tried to recruit children," said UNICEF's chief child protection officer in Burma, Anne-Claire Dufay.

"There was an intervention. The police intervened and made arrests," she told AFP.

Dufay said children who had been separated from their parents, and who were possibly orphans, were now facing the threat of violence on top of the everyday struggle to find enough food and water.

"There are concerns for children in camps," she said, adding that sleeping spaces and toilets should be well lit and safe for women and youngsters, to reduce the risk of harm in camps that can become crowded and tense.

Katy Barnett, Save the Children's child protection adviser in Rangoon, said the organisation was aware of the report of the arrests and expected more trafficking problems as the crisis develops.

"It's something which agencies have been expecting. It's an absolute standard thing in the fallout of an emergency like this," Barnett told AFP.

"Traffickers can easily get hold of unaccompanied or separated children and tell them they'll lead a better life or be safe."

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photo: In danger .... child victims of the cyclone are targets for traffickers (AFP)