Ethnic Mon IDPs Concerned About Declining Aid

By Zue Zue 16 August 2016

Ethnic Mon internally displaced persons (IDPs) are concerned about declining aid and financial assistance, according to a recent report on IDPs in Burma.

The Human Rights Foundation of Monland, Burma Link and Burma Partnership released a joint report called “Invisible Lives: The Untold Story of the Displacement Cycle in Burma” in Rangoon on Friday.

Nearly 70 years of ethnic conflict has created a displacement crisis with almost 650,000 internally displaced people and about 480,000 refugees who have fled the country, predominantly from ethnic minority areas, according to the report.
Currently, more than 100,000 refugees live in camps along the Thailand-Burma border, and approximately 400,000 IDPs live in protracted displacement in southeastern Burma.

As the political and social transformation in Burma continues—and following the triumph of the National League for Democracy in the 2015 elections which captivated local citizens and observers around the world—optimism that displaced persons would soon begin to move back to Burma has led to further decline in donor funding along the border, said the report.

“We hate to think what will happen to us if we no longer receive assistance,” said an IDP who lives near the border as quoted in the report.

Those living in IDP camps are mainly concerned that they will not continue to receive food and healthcare amid the constant decline in supplies over the past few years.

Although a coalition of international nongovernmental organizations called The Border Consortium (TBC) continues to assist ethnic Mon IDPs, its policy is to gradually reduce aid to encourage self-reliance. The Nippon Foundation has also provided assistance to Mon IDPs for years, but IDPs are worried that this aid will also stop, said Nai Awe Mon, program director of the Mon State Human Rights Foundation

“Aid has not completely ceased. IDPs still receive some assistance from the Nippon Foundation, International Rescue Committee and the American Refugee Committee. There are still projects from the last fiscal year but we don’t know if these will be extended or if new ones will take their place when they end,” said Nai Awe Mon.

He called for continued aid to Mon IDPs and said that, for countries in transition, aid should continue for people who were scapegoated in conflict until the transition is complete.

Mon IDPs have been unable to find sustainable livelihoods in IDPs camps and continue to suffer from chronic poverty, debt and lack of medical care, according to the report.

The report stated that there are about 35,000 IDPs in Mon Sate, mainly along the Thai-Burma border in the eastern part of the state controlled by the New Mon State Party. Some of them were forced from their homes some 20 years ago due to armed clashes and land confiscation.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko