16 May 2007
The worst Burmese military offensive in 10 years has displaced at least 27,000 people in eastern Burma's Karen State since November 2005. The displaced are civilians who have been targeted by the army and are living in exceptionally vulnerable conditions. An estimated three million people have been forced to migrate in Burma as a result of conflict, persecution, human rights abuses, and repressive government measures that prevent people from earning a livelihood. Instead of fulfilling its responsibility to protect its citizens, the Government of Burma, known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), is the biggest perpetrator of violations in the country.
Ethnic groups, comprising one-third of Burma's 52 million people, have borne the brunt of the government's repressive policies. The pattern of the Burmese military or the Tatmadaw has been to eliminate all opposition and take full control of ethnic areas. As part of its strategy to curb the support of ethnic insurgent armies, it targets civilians it perceives as backers of the insurgent groups.
() The Burmese internal displacement and refugee crises are linked to the regime's policy of targeting civilians. All regional and local initiatives to urge the SPDC to stop attacking civilians and protect its people have failed. The non-binding Security Council resolution introduced by the U.S. in January 2007, which included a call to the SPDC to cease attacks on the country's ethnic minorities, was vetoed by China and Russia. Until such time that all members of the UN Security Council acknowledge that the SPDC must be held accountable, and develop a united approach to address the government's failure to protect its people, the worst internal displacement crisis in Asia will persist.
Refugees International recommends:
- The Burmese military immediately halt all attacks on civilians.
- The UN Security Council members reach consensus on a strategy to pressure the SPDC to stop its abuse of civilians and hold it accountable for its failure to protect Burma's people.
- Donors support initiatives to assist internally displaced people by agencies doing cross-border work and agencies operating inside Burma, with funding directed to the most vulnerable.
- Donors support initiatives to enhance IDP protection through early warning systems.
- Agencies based inside Burma and organizations operating out of Thailand continue to improve coordination and collaboration through regular meetings and information sharing forums.
- The Government of Thailand allow new asylum seekers from Burma official access to all camps and ensure that the Provincial Admission Boards are functioning consistently so the new arrivals can be processed.
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