Saturday, January 8, 2011

TBBC to Cut Funds to Refugees in 2011

The Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) will cut humanitarian aid to Burmese refugees, as well as operational and programming expenses in 2011 due to a reduction in funding.
The TBBC is an umbrella organization of relief agencies that provides food and supplies to some 150,000 refugees from Burma living at nine refugee camps along the Thai-Burmese border.
The TBBC released a report on Tuesday saying that increased commodity prices, unfavorable currency fluctuations, a reduction in funding and feeding newcomers at the border have resulted in a shortfall in humanitarian aid for the year ahead. It said the cuts will affect food packages and materials for living shelters, as well as limiting any significant expansion in the agriculture and other livelihood sectors.

Many of the new refugees at the camps have fled the recent conflict between Burmese government forces and armed ethnic groups such as the Karen National Union. A majority of the refugees in Thailand have fled from areas in eastern Burma, especially Karen State.
An estimated 7,000 recent refugees are currently displaced in Thailand in numerous small groups at various locations along the border seeking to avoid the detection of the Thai authorities, said the TBBC report.
With some donors reducing funding, Sally Thompson, the deputy director of the TBBC, said that she is worried about long-term support for the Burmese refugees on the Thai border as there is no stability in the affected ethnic areas and refugees continue to flow into Thailand.
“We are concerned about long-term support even though we still have good donors,” she said. “In the long term, it will become harder to raise funds for Burmese refugees in Thailand.”
A housewife in Mae La Oon refugee camp said that she was unable to rebuild her house this year as she doesn’t receive sufficient bamboo, wood and leaf roofing, the standard construction materials at the camps.

In its report, the TBBC said it will also be looking at increased monitoring of food deliveries and distribution to ensure that food and non-food commodities are reaching the most vulnerable refugees.