Burma May 09 2012, 1 Comment

{learn about Burma}

After more than five decades of military rule, Burma's new government is undertaking high-level policy reforms in its desire to emerge from international isolation. Since the nominally civilian government came to power in March 2011, the Parliament has passed a number of laws which have allowed public demonstrations, and liberalized restrictions on the media, the Internet, and trade unions. Nobel Peace Prize winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her party have been allowed to re-register and will run in the by-elections in April 2012. Despite the progressive rhetoric, the implementation of these policies will be a long-term effort, requiring the support of the international community.  

Until the devastation of Cyclone Nargis in 2008, international assistance to Burma was extremely limited. While the UK and the European Union have increased funding in recent years, the U.S. has provided minimal humanitarian assistance inside the country. Burma receives an average of less than $5 in international assistance per person – compared with $48 per capita for Cambodia, and $66 per capita for Laos. It is now time for the U.S. government to capitalize on the reforms and significantly increase humanitarian assistance and support the growing capacity of local civil society actors.

Current Humanitarian Situation

Despite the promise of reforms, humanitarian needs persist. An estimated 500,000 people are displaced by conflict in eastern Burma and another 800,000 Muslims in western Burma, known as the Rohingya, are stateless and lack the most basic of human rights. A number of conflicts with ethnic armed groups persist and the government will need to invest significant political effort to translate various ceasefires into sustainable peace. Approximately 3 million Burmese have been forced to flee to neighboring countries. For refugees from eastern Burma, return to their homes may not be realized due to the extensive use of landmines by all parties to the conflict.

(This is an excerpt from www.refintl.org. Visit their website for more information!)