Donors Responding to Border Food Crisis (TBBC Update)

Below is an update received from friends in Thailand on the food crisis in the refugee camps…


Donors Responding to Border Food Crisis

During the last few months the Thailand Burma Border Consortium has been appealing for attention to a pending crisis for over 140,000 Burmese refugees along the Thailand Burma border due to soaring rice prices. Just two weeks ago there was serious concern that unless a funding shortage of US$6.8 million (EUR 4.3 million) was addressed, refugee rations might have to be cut by up to one half.
At a crucial meeting last night it was possible for the TBBC Board to postpone any decision on ration cuts until its next meeting scheduled for 13th August due to a combination of a significant improvement in the funding situation and an easing of rice prices. Although there is still a funding shortage of USD 3.5 million (EUR 2.3 million) the reduced shortfall allows another two months to resolve the problem.
“We are extremely grateful to the Canadian Government who this week announced an additional contribution of C$ 1 million (USD 1 million, EUR 650,000) for 2008, the UK Government for an additional contribution of GBP 330,000 (USD 600,000, EUR 425,000) and many other donors and friends who have contributed smaller amounts at this critical time” said Jack Dunford, TBBC’s Executive Director, “After a very worrying time, rice prices also appear to be falling and with foreign exchange rates improving slightly everything is now hopefully moving in the right direction”.
The situation remains fragile with rice prices still volatile. Fund raising is ongoing to address the US$ 3.5 million shortfall and responses are awaited from the US, Spanish and Australian governments amongst others. “We are hopeful that Royal Thai Government may also be able to help”, commented Mr. Dunford.
“The future for Burma remains very uncertain after Cyclone Nargis and further migration cannot be ruled out” he added. “There are likely to be many new challenges ahead for refugees and displaced people, but it has been crucial to maintain stability on the border during these uncertain times.  I am increasingly hopeful that we can solve the short term crisis. We still need to raise the balance outstanding but then we will be in a position to respond as the situation develops”. 
Media contact:               
Sally Thompson
TBBC Deputy Executive Director

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