KNU and government to negotiate withdrawal of Burma Army from Karen State

Following yesterday’s meeting at the Aye Chan Pyo guesthouse in the Burma border town of Myawaddy, Burma government and Karen National Union (KNU) representatives will meet for three days beginning on the 27th August in Hpa-an to discuss a ‘ceasefire code of conduct’ between the two sides armies.

Naw May Oo, a KNU delegate who took part in yesterday’s meeting told Karen News.

“We are going to discuss the military ‘code of conduct’ for both sides, as this is an agreement we have reached during the second round of peace talk.”

Naw May Oo explained that the third round of ‘peace talks’ would also include the ‘sensitive issue’ of negotiating for the withdrawal of Burma Army troops and camps now based in Karen State.

“The most important step to follow-up after the second round of talks is that both sides must follow the agreed to code of conduct that also involves the movement of troops and the location of army camps.”

Yesterday’s two-hour long meeting was attended by the KNU general secretary Naw Zipporah Sein, Padoh Saw Thawthi Bwe, Naw May Oo and Saw Aung Win Shwe and the government’s delegation was led by Railways Minister U Aung Min, Immigration Minister U Khin Ye, U Soe Thein and the Karen State Minister,U Zaw Min.

In addition to the government delegation, ‘peace mediators’ with links to the business and lobby sector included Dr. Kyaw Yin Hlaing, U Hla Maung Shwe, U Tin Maung Than from Myanmar Egress Company, U Ngwe Soe, U Ko Ko Maung and his wife Ma Su from Dawei Princess Company attended yesterday’s meeting.

Clinic needs $600,000 gets $5,000

Following the Myawaddy meeting, Minister U Aung Min took his wife, Dr. Wai Wai Tha and other health officers including Dr. Saw Kalaw Kho from Madalay University, Dr. Khin Maung Myint and Dr. Zin Latt Maung from Myawaddy Hospital to the Mae Tao Clinic to meet with renowned Dr. Cynthia Maung and health workers at the Mae Tao Clinic – the group stayed one and a half hours at the Clinic.

A senior medic from Mae Tao Clinic who asked not to be named, told Karen News that the discussions at the Mae Tao Clinic included the issue of referring emergency patients, recognition of health workers from the border region and citizenship of children who were birth registered at the Clinic.

“We mainly discussed on these three main topics – emergency patients, particularly pregnant women, referrals and citizenship. After that, Dr. Wai Wai Tha [Minister Aung Min’s wife] donated 100,000 Thai baht.”

During U Aung Min previous trip to Mae Tao Clinic where he met with Dr. Cynthia Maung, the Minister donated 150,000 baht (around $5,000) to the clinic.

Dr Cynthia was reported in July as saying “her clinic is facing a severe funding shortage of around 18 million baht (US$600,000) this year and urgently needs support.”

Mae Tao Clinic’s latest annual report (2011) documents that their caseload was 117,000 – mainly migrant and refugees from Burma. The MTC report also stated that 3,000 babies were also delivered at the Clinic compared with only 1,200 born in the much larger Myawaddy Hospital located across the border in Myanmar.

The Clinic’s annual report documents that the child outpatients department alone saw 8,087 cases of acute respiratory infections, 1,155 cases of diarrhea, 823 cases of pneumonia, 704 cases of skin infections, 339 cases of urinary tract infections, 330 cases of malaria, 240 cases of asthma, 172 cases of worm infestations, 129 cases of anaemia and 99 cases of neurological problems.

An editorial in the June edition of the respected medical journal, The Lancet, states that, “the government must begin to shift resources from the military back to the health of its people.” The Lancet article also reported that “in 2008, total expenditure on health was US$12 per head, far below the $60 dollars per head recommended by WHO for low-income countries to reach the health Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Although the national health budget has increased fourfold for 2012/2013, most of the budget will be for salaries. Health attracts less than 3% of overall expenditure, and is dwarfed by the military budget.”

The KNU and government held two rounds of official peace talks – the first round at the State level took place in Hpa-an Town on January 12 and the second round at the Union level took place in Rangoon on April 6 this year.

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