Myanmar stops men from working abroad as war heats up

People desperate to get visas seen outside the Thai embassy in Yangon in February.

Myanmar’s military government will no longer allow conscription-age men to travel out of the country for work, weeks after an enlistment order prompted many to try and flee.

On Thursday, authorities said they would suspend accepting applications for overseas work permits.

There is a large diaspora of Myanmar citizens working in other countries in Asia and the Middle East, and previously locals had been allowed to leave for jobs abroad.

But the restrictions comes as the junta battles increased opposition in the country’s ongoing civil war.

The junta had imposed the conscription order in February, following months of losses.

Nearly 100,000 men applied for work permits in the three months after that, part of a wider exodus of young people fleeing.

Young people had previously told the BBC about their desperation to get out of the country, particularly after the conscription order was enforced.

Men aged 18 to 35 and women aged 18 to 27 are obliged to enlist.

The crackdown on the work abroad possibility is being seen as another massive blow.

A 32-year-old man from Sanchaung Township, had travelled to the capital Yangon in preparation to leave the country for a job in Japan.

He told the BBC: “[Everyone] has lost their hope for the future.”

”There is no work in the country. Do they want everyone to join the army? Are we not going to do anything?” he said.

Ko Phyo, a 28-year-old from Lewey Township, told BBC Burmese the military council’s directive left the country’s youth with no work prospects at all.

The BBC has witnessed how tens of thousands of young Myanmar people have fled the country since the February edict – with many seeking relief in the Thai border town of Mae Sot.

Most of the recent arrivals have been young men avoiding national conscription.

Since the military toppled Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically-elected government in a 2021 coup, the junta has faced an uprising from several different groups that has escalated into a full-blown civil war.

The war has so far killed thousands and displaced at least 2.6 million people according to the UN.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News