CSW backs call for aid increase to Burma refugees
Published 19 June 2012
Christian Solidarity Worldwide has backed Aung San Suu Kyi’s call for an increase in aid to Burmese refugees along the Thai-Burma border.
Suu Kyi made the appeal in her Nobel Peace Prize lecture in Oslo, during which she recounted her recent visit to the Mae La refugee camp.
She relayed the concerns about “donor fatigue” from workers at the camps, which she added could “could translate as ‘compassion’ fatigue”.
“Donor fatigue expresses itself precisely in the reduction of funding,” she said.
“‘Compassion fatigue’ expresses itself less obviously in the reduction of concern. One is the consequence of the other.
“I appeal to donors the world over to fulfil the needs of these people who are in search, often it must seem to them a vain search, of refuge.”
CSW said that cuts in funding from the international community, including the European Union, had resulted in reductions to food rations of up to 25 per cent.
Provisions of clothing, blankets, mosquito nets and shelter had also suffered.
The human and religious rights group said the cuts were having a serious impact on the health of more than 140,000 people staying in camps along the Thai-Burma border as a result of inter-ethnic conflict.
CSW has made numerous visits to Burma, where it has documented the ransacking and destruction of churches. It reports that Christians have faced the choice of being used as forced labour or staying in the refugee camps.
Suu Kyi is visiting the UK for the next four days, during which she will become the first non-head of state to address both Houses of Parliament in Westminster on Thursday.
She will also meet David Cameron and members of Burma’s exiled community in the UK.
CSW’s East Asia team leader, Benedict Rogers said her visit was “hugely significant and historic” and a “sign of the positive changes in Burma”.
However, he warned that serious human rights violations were continuing in Burma despite the reforms of the last year, including attacks by the military on ethnic civilians in Kachin State and the detention of hundreds of prisoners of conscience in jail.
“Religious freedom must be protected, and inter-religious and inter-ethnic dialogue promoted," he said.
"It is essential that at this time of potential change in Burma, the international community invests in the lives of refugees, to ensure that they can return home in good health, security and with skills to contribute to reconstruction and reconciliation in their country when the time is right.
“Britain is the largest bi-lateral donor to Burma and has provided significant assistance which is welcome, but now is the time to act to ensure that the basic needs of refugees and internally displaced peoples are met and that a serious humanitarian challenge caused by a shortage of funding can be averted.”