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Civil society groups call for the end of forced displacement in Burma


Eleven Burmese civil society organizations (CSOs) called on the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the international community to end forced displacement in Burma on June 20 – World Refugee Day. The 11 CSOs want the international community to recognize the military as the root cause of Burma’s protracted conflict, exacerbated since the 2021 military coup. Signatories of the statement include Progressive Voice (PV) Myanmar, the Burma Rohingya Organization UK (BROUK), Karen Women’s Organization (KWO), and the Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM). They called for cross-border aid to be channeled into Burma via border-based resistance groups. “Local humanitarian and civil society groups, ethnic service providers, diaspora communities, local administration forces of the revolution, members of the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), Ethnic Revolutionary Organizations (EROs) and the National Unity Government (NUG) have been at the forefront to effectively provide emergency aid to affected communities from both the cyclone and from the military’s attacks,” its joint statement read. 

The 11 CSOs stated that channeling aid through the military regime in Naypyidaw will only legitimize it and encourage further human rights violations. It also called on Burma’s neighboring countries to provide protection and assistance to refugees and asylum seekers fleeing violence. The U.N. states there are 1.28 million refugees from Burma – including 960,128 Rohingya – in Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, and India. The U.N. adds that there are at least 1.84 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Burma. Sagaing, Tanintharyi, Magway regions and Karen, Chin, and Karenni states have been the most impacted by forced displacement due to military airstrikes and attacks. At least 1.6 million people were impacted by Cyclone Mocha and are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. But the military regime has blocked all international organizations from making aid deliveries to Rakhine State. “The double catastrophe of natural disaster and man-made ongoing atrocities by the junta in Chin and Rakhine States, and parts of Sagaing and Magwe Regions and Kachin, Karen, Karenni and Shan States, has displaced tens of thousands more. Internet shutdowns and restrictions, and the extension of martial law in 37 townships further aggravated the impacts of the cyclone on local communities,” the joint statement added. 

BROUK states that more than 400 Rohingya, forced to live in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Sittwe, are feared dead since the cyclone made landfall on May 14. The regime’s plan to repatriate over 1,000 Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh would only cause further suffering for the Rohingya community, which have faced ethnic cleansing and “acts of genocide” at the hands of the military in Burma. The joint statement concluded with calls for international justice and accountability for the crimes committed by the military on the people of Burma. “The voices of refugees and IDPs must be heard and strengthened, their agency and role recognized. Local hosts, humanitarian responders, and ethnic service providers have the expertise in supporting their own communities — often at great personal risk. They must be recognized, celebrated and supported at all costs.” 


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