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A Shan refugee camp along the Thai-Burmese border has run out of food and 5 others are due to run out at the end of this October.
Koung Jor, one of 6 camps housing over 6,000 Shan refugees, had its funding cut at the end of September by The Border Consortium (TBC). So far no international donor has stepped up to replace the funding, and the Burmese government has not intervened. “We’ve got nothing this month. We are surviving on leftovers from last month. People at the camp are expecting to get farming jobs in Thailand, but work hasn’t started yet because of heavy rains,” said camp organiser Lung Sai Lieng.
Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN), HART’s partner, had offered support in the camp through a community health clinic until they lost funding this year. They still support education in Koung Jor by accommodating students with a boarding house in the camp as well as food, pocket money, transportation, school fees and hygiene kits for students going to school there.
SWAN explains that funding is becoming more difficult to access. “As the NLD-led Government focuses on advancing the peace process, the international community has largely shifted their funding interests away from the border to inside Burma.”
Shan refugees caught in this situation face huge difficulties. They face the impossible choice between food cuts, persecution by the Burmese Army, or exploitation in Thailand.
“Communities in Shan State are at risk of human rights violations committed by the Burma Army. Women especially have been subject to sexual violence in conflict with soldiers escaping accountability as a result of the 2008 military drafted constitution entrenched in impunity. The Burma Army is notorious for its 4 cuts strategy designed to isolate communities by cutting off food, funds, intelligence and recruits which has had direct impacts on Shan communities including forced migration leading to increased displacement.
Shan people are not recognized as refugees so therefore we have no right to set up refugee camps but several IDP camps and unofficial camps are along the Thai-Burma border where funding cuts have resulted in severe cuts to food rations making for an impossible choice for those stuck in limbo: at risk of deteriorating health effects or leave as conflict wages in their homelands.” Maggi Quadrini, SWAN Communications Officer
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