South violence orphans 7,000

More than 7,000 children in the far South have been orphaned by militant violence during the region's 10-year insurgency.

Wankanok Por-itaedao, chairwoman of the Luk Riang group, an association of children and youths advocating peace in the deep South, said on Friday that 7,312 children in the three southernmost provinces have been orphaned since the turmoil erupted in the region in January 2004.

The number of orphans is still rising, she added.

The Luk Riang group educates children in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat about their basic rights, which most of them are not aware of, Ms Wankanok said.

Meanwhile, youngsters affected by the insurgency want peace to return to the lower South as a gift to mark the National Children's Day on Saturday.

Abdullor Dueramae, a student at an Islamic school in the deep South, said all children and youths in the region want is for peace to be restored.

As a representative of youths affected by southern violence, he felt deeply hurt by the loss of lives.

Nureesan Waji, a student at Rajabhat Yala University and one of the youths affected by southern violence, said peace would be the best gift for the children of the far South.

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