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TBBC to Cut Aid to Mon IDPs In the Face of Increasing Need

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By LAWI WENG : The Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) will cut humanitarian aid to the thousands of the Mon Internally Displaced Persons (IDP), as a reduction in funding for 2011 takes effect.

Speaking to The Independent Mon News Agency on Thursday, Sally Thompson, the deputy director of the TBBC said, “Some donors have reduced funding and others  have not  maintained support.  We have a funding shortfall for 2011. Therefore, we have to make some cuts in the programs.

“There will be some reduction for IDPs because generally the aim is for the IDPs to become self reliant,” she said.

There are 8,997 IDPs at three resettlement sites under the New Mon State Party (NMSP) liberated area in Mon State, which include Hlokhani, Bee Ree and Tavoy camps, according to the Mon Relief and Development Committee (MRDC). The IDPs have lived in the camps since 1995, when they were displaced by the war and never returned home after the cease-fire.

The TBBC has provided rice to the internally displaced people for only three months a year for the past two years. They currently provide 16 kilograms of rice for an adult and 8 kilograms for a child. This represents a greatly reduced donation since the NMSP has joined the ceasefire with the military junta in 1995, before which they provided rice and other commodities all year round.

The reduction will affect the IDPs at Tavoy camp, where there are 2, 426 IDPs. Often there is fighting between Mon armed groups, which split from the NMSP and the government troops, and the people can not rely on their own businesses in the area to support themselves, according to MRDC.

“I found some families have not enough food and they have to eat rice soup,” said a field worker from MRDC.

Many of the refugees have to depend on seasonal work, cutting bamboo shoots, working in the garden (cutting wild grass), working the rubber plantations, and cutting long grass for brooms.

Meanwhile, there is no stable situation at the three IDP areas while the NMSP and the Burmese military junta are experiencing tension after the party rejected being forced to join the border guard forces.

The TBBC is an umbrella organization of relief agencies who also have cut off humanitarian aid to the Burmese refugees. The organization provides food and supplies to some 150,000 refugees from Burma living at nine refugee camps along the Thai-Burmese border.

A report released from TBBC on Tuesday said that increased commodity prices, unfavorable currency fluctuations, a reduction in funding added to an increase in newcomers at the border have resulted in a severe shortfall in humanitarian aid for the year ahead.

The report said that the cut in humanitarian aid will affect food packages and materials for living shelters, as well as limiting any significant expansion in the agriculture and other livelihood sectors.

“We are always concerned because we know the situation in eastern Burma continues to be unstable. Therefore, we realize there will be continuing demand for support. So, we will continue to seek funding,” said Sally Thompson.

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