Canada Renews Humanitarian Assistance to Burma
6 March 2010 – Saskatoon: Canada today announced that it will continue financial supports for Burmese refugees and displaced persons living in Burma’s border areas. The renewed policy was unveiled this morning in Saskatoon by Kelly Block, MP on behalf of the Minister of International Cooperation Beverley J. Oda during the 3rd Burma Forum meeting.
“Canada’s renewed support builds on the significant results being achieved in Burma’s border areas. Over the past five years, CIDA-funded health care initiatives have treated nearly one million cases of malaria, acute respiratory infections, tuberculosis, and severe malnutrition, provided food aid to approximately 145,000 refugees, and health care services to approximately 500,000 refugees,” said Minister Oda.
“These results, along with support for community-based organizations working on human rights and environmental issues, demonstrate how Canada’s assistance is helping those in need.”
The renewed funding amounts to $15.9 million over five year and will continue to provide assistance in the Burma border region through Inter Pares Canada, a Canadian humanitarian organization, which supports numerous organizations, including the Thailand-Burma Border Consortium and the Mae Tao Clinic.
The announcement was immediately welcomed by Burmese activists participating at the Burma Forum meeting.
Victor Biak Lian, a representative of the Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC) said, “This renewed Canadian commitment is both very encouraging and significant because the Canadian humanitarian assistance serves as a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of people now living on Burma’s borders. At the same time, it is also important to have more Canadian funding made available for Burma’s western borders so that a larger group of people can benefit from Canadian assistance.”
Thanking the Canadian government for its financial pledge for Burma, Bo Hla Tint, Foreign Affairs Minister of the Washington-based Burmese government-in-exile NCGUB said, “Burma is now faced with three major crises; constitutional, socio-economic and humanitarian crisis.” He said that while Canadian assistance can help address the humanitarian side of the problem, the Burmese people are determined to do their part to meet the various challenges of the country.
Today’s announcement came after months of uncertainty as to whether Canada will continue its continue its funding, and at the end of a five-year humanitarian assistance for Burma by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), which previously allocated 12.4 million dollars.