Restoring Hope: Australian Burmese community calls for more refugee support

The Australia Karen Organization commemorated World Refugee Day by calling for the international community to give more support to Karen people living in refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border. Under its banner, ‘Restoring Hope’, the Australia Karen Organization (AKO) and as many as 250 people gathered in Villawood, Sydney on June 22.

The celebration was attended by over 250 participants including Australian members of parliament, Kachin ethnic group, delegations from the Burmese Muslim Association, political organizations, religious organizations and resettled member of the Burmese community.

Speaking at the ceremony, an AKO chairperson, Saw Lwin Oo said.

“The refugee situation is related to politics in Burma. No matter how many ceasefire agreements are being signed, if there is no political settlement, it will be unacceptable to carry out any refugee repatriation program. Karen and Kachin refugees from eastern and northern Burma are stateless due to the Burma Armies persecution.”

The purpose of ceremony was for the Australia Oversea Resettlement Program and the international humanitarians’ organizations, IHSS, to offer resettlement opportunities to refugees from eastern and northern Burma made homeless by militarization and to get donors to provide support for cross border programs.

San Maw Lapine, a delegate of the Kachin Association Australia (KAA) said.

“The Burma Army has to stop the oppression of the Kachin people as they are behaving as if they have a license to rape [Kachin women]. The government should allow access [in Kachin state] for UN agencies to provide humanitarian assistance [to the displaced people].”

There ceremony included Kachin and Burmese dancing, Karen songs, and fund raising activities to help internally displaced people and refugees.

Speaking to Karen News about the ceremony, Saw Moe Zaw, said.

“Back in Burima, I couldn’t see any hope for my future as everything was uncertain. When I arrived here [in Australia], I began to experience freedom and I began to have hope for my life.Today’s celebration is called ‘Restoring hope’ – I want all refugees to be able to have hope in their lives as soon as possible.”

Attending the ceremony a member of the Australian business community sympathetic to the refugee situation in Burma said he would try assist refugees resettling in Australia as much as he could. The businessman promised to help resettled refugees to find work and said he had donated money for the refugees through the Australia Karen Organization. The AKO has commemorated World Refugee Day since 2008.

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