Children receive lunch at a nursery school as part of The Border Consortium activities to maximise nutrition for pre-school children at the camp at Ban Mae Nai Soi. Photo: DFAT
Australia will provide $8 million over the next two years to provide basic health and education services for refugees on the Thai–Burma border. The funding will also provide training and livelihood support to people in preparation for a safe and voluntary return home when conditions permit.
An estimated 130,000 people are living in nine camps on the Thai side of the border. Refugees fleeing conflict in Burma have sought refuge in Thailand since the mid-1980s, in what has become one of the world’s most protracted refugee situations.
Australia’s funding will help provide basic education for 30,000 children, training for 500 teachers, vocational training for 2,100 men and women, basic health services for up to 100,000 refugees, and food, shelter, and livelihood support targeted to the most vulnerable households.
Support will be delivered through five organisations that have a strong track record providing essential services on the border. The Border Consortium will provide food, shelter, livelihood support and information services; the International Rescue Committee and Premiere Urgence – Aide Medicale Internationale will provide health services including mental health support; Save the Children will provide education support; and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency will provide vocational education and training.
This program of support was developed and will be implemented with the assistance of a humanitarian co-ordinator deployed through the Australian Civilian Corps.
Australian aid is also supporting skilled Australian volunteers to work with community organisations along the border, helping people displaced by conflict.
In addition, Australia is funding six community organisations to provide health services and human rights education, and to support women’s leadership in the refugee camps.
Since 1999 Australia has provided more than $20 million in humanitarian assistance to refugee camps along the Thai–Burma border. Current negotiations between the Government of Myanmar and ethnic groups present the best opportunity for a durable peace in decades.