KWO – Refugees Hit Hard by Funding Cuts

Naw K‘nyaw Paw, the secretary of the Karen Womens Organisation’s told Karen News that reduced funding by the international community for refugees on the Thai Burma border is causing hardship.

“Reduction of funding to the nine refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border has resulted in a reduction of services in education and health care and most importantly in their food.”

Naw K‘nyaw Paw said international groups have refocused their funding away from those people in need along the Thai Burma border.

“Funding has been slowly re-directed away form the border areas to ‘Rangoon-based’ projects and assistance. This is not in line with the protection framework laid out by the UNHCR and Committee for Coordination of Services to Displaced Persons in Thailand (CCSDPT).”

Naw K‘nyaw Paw points out that the 127,000 refugees on the Thai Burma border would now receive less than the minimum amount as stipulated by the World Health Organization.

“Food rations for refugees have been for the first time, not allocated equally among the nine refugee camps along the border. The three camps worst affected, in the Thai province of Tak, have had their rice rations for adults reduced from 15 kilos per month –that meets the World Health Organizations minimum requirements, to 8 kilos a month which does not.”

Naw K‘nyaw Paw said refugees are now forced to take risks to feed their families.

“With this situation in place since December 2013, refugee families are being obliged to look for work outside of the refugee camps to supplement income so they can buy food. They are forced to engage in unregulated work, are liable to arrest by Thai police, or place themselves in danger when they feel forced to return to Burma from the camps to look for food where conditions are not yet safe nor in accordance with the UNHCR repatriation principles.”

Naw K‘nyaw Paw said that international non-government organizations should do their job and take responsibility in order to protect the welfare of refugees in their care.

“This issue falls into the “protection” sector and should be of urgent concern to those NGOs, government donors and UN agencies involved in protection work. Many refugee parents have had to leave their children unaccompanied at home in the camps to go outside looking for food.”

Naw K‘nyaw Paw said it is the most vulnerable who are bearing the brunt of the funding cuts – the old, women and children.

“This puts children at greater risk and becomes therefore a child protection issue. KWO has received an increased number of reports of children staying in camps without parental supervision and we are very concerned about these kinds of effects of the food ration cuts.”

Naw K‘nyaw Paw questioned if the INGO’s and the United Nations agency with the mandate to protect refugees if they have accepted the responsibility of their respective missions.

“We ask ourselves [KWO] and we have raised our voices in meetings: Do UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies have a concrete action plan to protect the human rights of refugee education, health and food security that are being dangerously depleted by these funding cuts?”

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