Some 6,000 Shan refugees – many of whom fled conflict at home more than 20 years ago and sought refuge in camps along the Thai-Burmese border – are about to experience a severe cut in international assistance.
The Border Consortium (TBC), an umbrella group that coordinates international aid deliveries, has informed camp leaders that funds and aid will cease at the end of September.
The measure applies to the six camps where ethnic Shan refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) currently live: Loi Sam Sip; Loi Lam; Loi Kaw Wan; Loi Tai Leng; Kuang Jor; and Kuang Mone Mai.
Speaking to DVB yesterday by telephone, Kuang Jor Camp Committee chairman Sai Lin, “After September, we will stop receiving assistance. They [TBC] did not inform us earlier. They should assess the situation in the camp before they cut the assistance.”
TBC, however, say that in February 2017 they formally notified the Kuang Jor camp committee as well as the five other IDP camps about the cessation of food aid.
Sai Lin added: “People here in the camp are undocumented, so they cannot work legally [in Thailand]. Many of us work as seasonal laborers at farms nearby, but we can only do this during the harvest.
“Furthermore, we cannot go back to our villages because the military offensives are ongoing. There are more Tatmadaw [Burmese military] forces than ever before in the area. Troops from the United Wa State Army [UWSA] are also deployed nearby.
“We would like to request assistance until the situation improves,” he concluded.
Over the past two weeks, refugees and IDPs from the Shan camps have protested against the continued military activities in Shan State, and called for all parties to respect the rights of refugees.
Many chanted and held placards requesting continued humanitarian assistance until such time as they can return home to Shan State “in dignity and safety.”