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Burmese Refugees in Ban Don Yang Experience Reduced Supplies

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By MIN TAW LAWI – The Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) has started reducing humanitarian aid to the hundreds of the Burmese refugees in Ban Don Yang camp located near the Thai-Burmese border, in Sangkhlaburi, Kanchanaburi Province, as a reduction in funding for 2011 takes effect.

Refugee women carry home their rations in Ban Don Yang refugee camp ( Photo: UNHCR / K. McKinsey / 2 May 2007 )
Refugee women carry home their rations in Ban Don Yang refugee camp ( Photo: UNHCR / K. McKinsey / 2 May 2007 )

Refugees from the camp in Ban Don Yang have reported that aid reduction began at the beginning of this year.

Last year, each person was given 15 kilos of rice, one liter of oil, and one kilo of fish paste. Now, the rations have been reduced to 13 kilos of rice, 0.8 liters of oil, and 0.5 kilos of fish paste. Materials for building shelters and other commodities have been reduced also.

Up to December 2010, the TBBC provided Burmese refugees with rice, salt, oil, fish paste, yellow lentil beans, tinned fish and charcoal.

“Last year, we got everything for food supplies and also materials for building houses. But, they cut down everything for this year,” said Naw Shar Lar Lar, an ethnic Karen refugee who has been in the camp for 13 years.

As the impact of reduced humanitarian supplies at the camp takes effect, Thin Hla, another Burmese refugee at the camp, commented, “We have a lot of problems such as food and material to build for shelters now.”

“Families with children do not have enough food. Some people have tried to work outside the camp,” he said.

According to the TBBC a report in 2008, there are about 856 households and more than 4,000 peoples have been in the Pan Don Yang camp. The camp was founded in May 1997.

Sally Thompson, the deputy director of the TBBC told Independent Mon News Agency on January 6th that 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.”

The TBBC is an umbrella organization of relief agencies, which gives 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 January 4th said that increased commodity prices, unfavorable currency fluctuations, a reduction in funding added to an increase in newcomers at the border has resulted in a severe shortfall in humanitarian aid for the year ahead.

The report further explained 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.

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