EU: we cannot lose sight of Thai refugee campsMarch 11th, 2011 - 9:27 pm ICT by BNO News
BRUSSELS (BNO NEWS) — The European Union (EU) on Friday announced that its Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, International Cooperation and Crisis Response, will arrive in Thailand on Saturday to visit camps hosting refugees from Myanmar and discuss the concrete measures to build a sustainable future for the refugees with the Royal Thai Government.
Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva emphasized that while the world’s attention is focusing on the humanitarian emergency in Northern Africa, the international community cannot lose sight of other places, such as Thailand, where humanitarian needs persist and where there is a chance to be part of the solution.
“For the last 20 years, Thailand has graciously provided asylum to the people fleeing violence in their native Myanmar,” Georgieva stated. “During my trip, I will express Europe’s appreciation for this positive role, and will continue the dialogue on finding durable solutions for the refugees.”
On Sunday, Commissioner Georgieva will travel to the Mae Sot - Mae La camp in Western Thailand, where she will visit projects providing health care and food assistance funded by the European Commission as well as projects that improve refugees’ self-reliance. The Commissioner will meet with the local authorities, refugee representatives and partner organizations.
Georgieva is also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya in Bangkok on Monday, with whom she will discuss the Thai government’s active work on improving refugees’ access to education, justice and economic activities.
With the European Union’s support for a long-term solution, the Commissioner will underline the importance of moving from hand-out relief to sustainable livelihood solutions for the refugees.
Currently, over 140,000 refugees from Myanmar live in nine camps in Thailand. The European Commission is among the largest donors to the camps and since 1995 has provided, including this 2011 funding, €149 million ($205 million): €103 million ($142 million)of humanitarian funding and €46 million ($63 million) through other longer-term assistance budgets. Over the same period, the Commission has also provided €132 million ($182 million) of humanitarian support within Myanmar.
The European humanitarian assistance covers food support, basic health care, water and sanitation. Essential food aid is provided to over 65,000 refugees, and 100,000 benefit from basic medical services.
In addition, to ensure that refugees get not only immediate support, but also a chance for a better future and greater self-reliance, the European Commission plans to gradually refocus its aid to camp residents – from humanitarian relief toward more sustainable support.
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Tags: abhisit vejjajiva, bno, concrete measures, durable solutions, food assistance, georgieva, government commissioner, humanitarian emergency, international cooperation, kasit, local authorities, long term solution, mae sot, northern africa, partner organizations, refugee camps, royal thai government, self reliance, sustainable livelihood, western thailand