The U.S. added Myanmar to its list of the world's worst human trafficking offenders on Thursday, saying that the country has subjected hundreds of thousands of displaced Rohingya Muslims and other ethnic minorities to exploitation and used child soldiers.
Myanmar was among five countries that were downgraded from the Tier 2 Watch List to Tier 3 status in the State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report.
The other countries to face Tier 3 downgrades are Bolivia, Gabon, Laos and Papua New Guinea. Tier 3 status means that those countries could potentially face funding restrictions from the U.S.
Myanmar has faced international condemnation as hundreds of thousands of minority Rohingya Muslims flee the country for neighboring Bangladesh to escape persecution and a Burmese military offensive that has been described by the United Nations as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing."
Myanmar's military has said that it is fighting Rohingya militants in the country's northern Rakhine province.
The State Department's trafficking report also accused Myanmar of stymying United Nations efforts to combat the recruitment of child soldiers by ethnic armed groups and cited reports that government officials were complicit in sex and labor trafficking.
But the report noted that the Burmese government identified more trafficking victims than in the previous year, and "committed resources to awareness-raising efforts aimed at preventing child soldier recruitment and use."
Still, the department laid out a bleak picture of human trafficking in Myanmar, noting that it has increasingly become a destination for foreign victims of human trafficking, including women and girls from India.