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Caritas has pledged $25,000 to help refugees from Burma/Myanmar who live in camps on the Thai Burma border to develop livelihood programmes and become self-reliant while continuing to provide everyday necessities. These camps have been in place for 28 years and 138,000 people live there.
Recent changes in Burma/Myanmar, such as the election of Aung San Suu Kyi the head of the National League for Democracy, after 15 years house arrest, have raised hopes that refugees may at last be able to return home. However this will take a long time. It will mean that people will need to build up their ability to support themselves as ongoing conflict has destroyed subsistence livelihoods and the camps have relied almost entirely on aid relief. Caritas is supporting the people to develop sustainable incomes so that they can become self-reliant.
Our goals include training and education in: nutrition, gardening, camp management and warehouse management. And purchasing and monitoring delivery and distribution of seeds, crop trees, small livestock and tools. The programme’s philosophy is to maximise refugee input and minimise staff and aid dependency. The refugees have been largely responsible for their own lives and their culture has generally been maintained.
Caritas pledged $5,000 to assist with fire relief in Umpiem Mai camp in Thailand which was badly damaged by a fire in February 2012. The camp is home to over 17,600 refugees from Burma. The blaze destroyed 566 houses and damaged 257. An estimated 3,621 refugees lost everything, including their monthly food ration that they received the day before the fire.
Caritas support through the Thai-Burma Border Consortium helped re-build and repair houses destroyed or damaged by the fire and replaced food rations. Blankets, mats, mosquito nets and cooking pots were also supplied. You can read stories about families affected by the fire here.