First Thai Humanitarian Aid Delivery Will Not Reach the Hungry IDPs Criticism from Karen Aid Workers and UN Human Rights

On March 25, the first shipment of humanitarian aid destined for those displaced by the conflicts in Myanmar entered from Thailand.10 trucks from Thailand cross over the Mae Sot-Myawaddy border crossing, carrying around 4,000 packages of aid to three towns in Karen (Kayin) State with the parcels containing mostly food, worth around 5 million baht.

The Thai Red Cross has delivered the aid into the hands of the Junta- controlled Myanmar Red Cross. Thai Vice Foreign Minister Sihasak Phuangketkeow said that the aid will benefit around 20,000 people in Na Bu village in Kawkareik district, and Thar Ma Nya and Paingkyon villages in Hpa-An district all areas under the Junta’s control.

The fact that none of this aid is likely to reach the huge numbers of IDPs beyond the Junta-controlled areas has drawn widespread criticism. Tom Andrews, the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar, said that, “Delivering aid to the party most responsible for the country’s civil war was counterproductive. It would not reach the populations most in need. That (Thai ) corridor puts humanitarian aid into the hands of the junta, because it goes into the hands of the junta-controlled Myanmar Red Cross,” Andrews said, adding that ,” the junta would use the resources, “for their own military strategic advantage.”

The Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People (CIDKP) emphasized the necessity of collaboration with local organizations to ensure the efficient distribution of aid to those most in need.

Saw Keh Lay, the deputy in charge at CIDKP, highlighted the absence of engagement with Karen civil society organizations, including CIDKP in facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid; however emphasizing the necessity of collaboration with these local entities to achieve effective distribution to those most in need.

“The Myamar Red Cross knows nothing about the situation here. We do not know how they got involved, and we are worried about what they will do next”, he told KIC.

Most of the refugees in dire need of humanitarian aid reside in territories controlled by ethnic armed organizations (EAOs), with civil organizations warning that a Junta-controlled aid distribution may hinder reaching those most in need.

“This is a process that needs to involve collaboration with local organizations, including CIDKP. Only then can the aid reach those who truly need it. Currently, there are only collaborations with some large organizations and armed groups, but it is essential to broaden the network.”, he told KIC.

Win Myat Aye, the NUG minister of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Manage had already sent a detailed plan to the Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ” For effective delivery of such aid to themost needy people, close cooperation with EROs [ethnic resistance organizations] and NUG [National Unity Government] will be of paramount importance. Given Thailand’s status as a pivotal neighboring country to Myanmar, coordinated and collaborative efforts with NUG and EROs are imperative to resolve the ongoing crisis through diplomatic channels.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand has announced that supplies and food will be delivered to war-displaced people in areas controlled by the Karen National Union (KNU) in Karen State, but there is no confirmation how this will be arranged and the Junta is certain to oppose it and there is no evidence of any concrete plan to achieve this.

The UN Human Rights Rapporteur observed, “The fact of the matter is, is that the reason that humanitarian aid is in such desperate need is precisely because of the junta and the conflict areas in which the junta has absolutely no influence or control whatsoever. So those are the areas we need to focus on.”

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