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Signs of Hope in South East Myanmar

By Thailand Burma Border Consortium  •  October 31, 2012

A significant decrease in forced displacement has been documented by community‐based organisations in South East Myanmar after a series of ceasefire agreements were negotiated earlier this year. While armed conflict continues in Kachin State and communal violence rages in Rakhine State, field surveys indicate that that there has been a substantial decrease in hostilities affecting Karen, Karenni, Shan and Mon communities.

In its annual survey of displacement and poverty released today, the Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) estimates that 10,000 people were forced from their homes during the past year in comparison to an average of 75,000 people displaced every year during the previous decade. While there remain at least 400,000 internally displaced persons in rural areas of South East Myanmar, the tentative return of 37,000 civilians to their villages or surrounding areas reflects hope for an end to displacement.

After supporting refugees and internally displaced persons for nearly three decades, TBBC’s Executive Director Jack Dunford is optimistic about the possibility of forging a sustainable solution but conscious that there are many obstacles still to come. “The challenge of transforming preliminary ceasefire agreements into a substantive peace process is immense, but this is the best chance we have ever had to create the conditions necessary to support voluntary and dignified return in safety”, said Mr Dunford.

Poverty assessments conducted by TBBC’s community‐based partners with over 4,000 households across 21 townships provide a sobering reminder about the impact of protracted conflict on civilian livelihoods. The findings suggest that 59% of households in rural communities of South East Myanmar are impoverished, with the indicators particularly severe in northern Karen areas where there have been allegations of widespread and systematic human rights abuse.

The Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Myanmar reported to the United Nations General Assembly last month that truth, justice and accountability are integral to the process of securing peace and national reconciliation. Mr Dunford commented that “after all the violence and abuse, inclusive planning processes can help to rebuild trust by ensuring that the voices of those most affected are heard and that civil society representatives are involved at all stages”.

Enquiries (in Thailand):
Duncan McArthur, TBBC Emergency Response Director +66 (0)898508457 (English)
Saw Steve, Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People +66 (0)862083131 (Burmese)

Click here to view   the report “Changing Realities, Poverty and Displacement in South East Burma/Myanmar”

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This post is in: Press Release

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