Donor support drops for refugees – food rations to be cut

The Border Consortium plans to cut its food rations to the 128,000 refugees living in the nine refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border. TBC is a group of nine international NGOs that delivers food, shelter and non-food items to the refugees on the Thai Burma border.

The TBC in a letter to refugee committees, camp committees and community-based-organizations, stated that they are trying to ensure that their limited resources in 2013 would be used to provide assistance based on needs and that there will be a general ration reduction later in the year.

The TBC letter said that changes to the ration have to be made due to funding constraints caused by a number of related factors affecting aid donations – the strength of the Thai baht against donor countries currencies, rising costs of food and the reduction of aid by a number of donors.

Naw Blooming Night Zan, joint secretary of the Karen Refugee Committee, told Karen News that although the TBC will definitely reduce rations in 2013, its plan would not be implemented immediately.

Naw Blooming Night Zan said the ration cuts would be means tested according to the needs of refugees.

“Due to funding reduction by donors, support for refugees will be adjusted to meet their needs – more need, more support, less need, less support.”

Naw Blooming Night Zan added that although there is a plan to reduce the food ration, the TBC would carefully make its assessment based on each refugee’s needs, factors to be considered include age, vulnerability and income if any, in order to be fair to all refugees.

The TBC letter signed by its executive director, Ms. Sally Thompson, said that the TBC will continue to seek support for refugees and will work closely with the KRC, the Karenni Refugee Committee (KnRC) and community-based-organizations in an effort to counteract rumors and to allay refugee concerns caused by stress of the ration cuts.

The Border Consortium’s monthly standard food basket allowance provided to each refugee includes 15kg of rice, 1kg of yellow bean, 1 litre of cooking oil, 0.5kg of fish paste, 0.2kg of salt and 20kg of charcoal (used for cooking fuel).

A camp officer from Mae La refugee camp spoke to Karen News about the ration cuts.

“Previously, there were seven types of food items provided to us. Now we don’t get chili anymore. It has been a year since we have not received the full seven food items.”

Funding support for refugees on the border has been decreasing since early 2012, partly due to donors redirecting their aid to inside Burma following easing of restrictions by the government. Recent rumors and official talks about refugee repatriation have concerned the refugee community along the border. The Border Consortium letter points out that the ration changes are not directly related to any future plans to return refugees to Burma.

The Border Consortium was formed in 1984 when refugees from Burma crossed into Thailand to escape conflict and militarization in Karen state. TBC are supporting 128,000 refugees living in nine refugee camps along the Thai-Burma Border – Mae La, Mae Rama Luang, Ma La Oon, Umpheim, Nu Po, Ban Don Yang, ThamHin, and Karenni Camp 1 and Camp 2.

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