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DFID Should Conduct Inquiry Into Burma Census Funding

By Burma Campaign UK  •  April 9, 2014

Burma Campaign UK is calling on Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development, to conduct an inquiry into the decision making process which led to the Department for International Development (DFID) giving the government of Burma £10m ($16m) of British aid money for Burma’s controversial census.

Many organisations in Burma, and outside Burma, including Burma Campaign UK, warned that the census could make ethnic and religious tensions worse, and trigger violence. International donors, including the British government, ignored these warnings, and the census began last week.

Those warnings have sadly proven correct, with rising tensions caused by the census in Rakhine State leading to violent protests in which a child has been killed, international aid agencies being attacked and staff forced to flee the state, tens of thousands of internally displaced Rohingya are in danger of running out of food and water.

The government of Burma has already banned one aid agency from providing medical care to the Rohingya. Now all the rest have had to flee. Tens of thousands of displaced Rohingya have no medical care. Children are dying from treatable illnesses, because there is no-one to help them.

The government of Burma also went back on its word and has banned Rohingya from being able to register as Rohingya in the census. Instead they are being registered as Bengali, or not registered at all. British aid is paying for a census which discriminates against the Rohingya.

Burma Campaign UK is asking supporters to write to Justine Greening MP calling for an inquiry into why DFID funded the census. The draft letter states: “The British government is operating under the false assumption that President Thein Sein is genuine about reforming Burma as a democratic nation, and addressing human rights abuses. Funding decisions are based on this false assumption, leading to unintended negative outcomes. The funding of the census is an example of this.”

Burma Campaign UK is calling for the inquiry to look into the entire decision making process relating to giving British aid to support the census, and why warnings about negative outcomes were ignored. Burma Campaign UK is also asking for the outcome of the inquiry to be made public.

“This census has been disastrous, and led to children dying, and it’s all underpinned by international aid, including £10m from DFID,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “Justine Greening must conduct an inquiry into the scandal of £10m of British aid being spent on a census which discriminates against the Rohingya and has triggered violence which resulted in the deaths of children.”

Media Contact:
Mark Farmaner

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This post is in: Press Release

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