Rice cuts to refugee camps

High food prices here in the US means (for a lot of us middle class folks who have choices) we buy less of some of what we like, shop smarter, and eat out less. For the rest of the world, the cost of high food prices is much higher….refugees in camps in Thailand are having their rations cut (these were rations, not excesses!).  The following is an appeal received from friends in Thailand, put out by the Thai-Burma Border Consortium  (www.tbbc.org) which has provided for the refugee camps housing, at the moment 140,000+ people from Burma.  


Support refugees from Burma: put rice in the pot

Today, more than 140,000 refugees from Burma are living in nine camps along the Thailand Burma border.  Unlike most other situations around the world there is no United Nations-coordinating mechanism responsible for these refugees. The Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC), a non-profit organisation, provides all of the food to these camps and must raise its own funds. Rice is the main ingredient of the refugees’ food basket, the price of which has been seriously affected by the global food crisis.

During 2008, rice prices have more than doubled. Unless more funds can be raised quickly to cover the increased cost, TBBC will have to cut the refugee food rations to as little as 50% of the international minimum standard required to sustain life.  World attention is currently focused on the victims of cyclone Nargis and once again, we are witnessing the incapacity and unwillingness of the military junta to respond to the needs of its own people.

The people of Burma have suffered decades of human rights abuses, civil war and economic mismanagement and for 24 years, TBBC has been providing assistance to those who have had no choice but to flee to the border.  These refugees must not be forgotten. Before fleeing to Thailand, they suffered serious human rights abuses including forced labour, rape and torture and most have lost everything they owned as their villages were destroyed by the army. The refugees from Burma are confined to camps but if TBBC cannot support them with adequate food, they will be compelled to leave the camps, risking arrest, abuse, exploitation, and possible deportation back to Burma. We can expect to see serious malnutrition and health problems within a matter of weeks. Children, pregnant women and the elderly are most at risk. We are appealing to all traditional donors including governments to help us through this crisis. But we are also challenging ourselves as staff, friends and families. We believe that the huge network of family and friends we all have will make a difference.

We are setting ourselves a target of Thai baht 1.6 million (USD 50,000, EUR 32,000, GBP 25,000) by the end of June. That would be enough to provide rice to 1000 refugees to the end of 2008.  A contribution of just baht 300 (US$10, EUR 6, GBP 5) would cover the cost of rice for one refugee for a whole month, baht 1,800 (US$60, EUR36, GBP30) for the entire second half of 2008.

We can make a difference – even a little means a lot.

Donations can be made online at their web site:  www.tbbc.org for those who are interested. 


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