More Humanitarian Aid Likely to Flow into Chin State
17 January 2012: In light of Burma’s current political development as a whole and the recent CNF-Chin State government agreeing to a ceasefire, it is likely that the country’s poorest state will have better opportunities for humanitarian assistance.
The 9-point agreement of the ceasefire deal between the Chin National Front (CNF) and Chin State government includes a provision that Chin State will be designated as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ), meaning major economic development is to be introduced into the remote northwestern region.
Speaking to Chinland Guardian, Dr. Sui Khar, leader of the CNF delegation, said: “With the designation of Chin State as the Special Economic Zone, it will help commercialize local products and create jobs. But at the same time there will be monitoring of environmental impact of developments and protection of Chin State from influx of foreigners.”
The agreement also stipulates that international non-governmental organizations will be allowed free access to Chin State so that they can tackle pressing issues such as poverty, health and education.
In its report released on 11 January 2012, the Refugees International (RI) urged humanitarian donors particularly the EU, UK and US governments to increase humanitarian and disaster risk reduction assistance inside Burma as the new government shows a willingness to cooperate with humanitarian agencies.
Last week, Mr. Paul Whittingham, Head of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), said a funding of £10million will be provided for microfinance projects in Kachin, Chin, Rakhine, Shan States, the central dry zone and the Irrawaddy delta.
In 2008, DFID responded to the devastating food crisis in Chin State with a financial support of an estimated 1million US dollars through UN agencies, including UNDP and WFP following a meeting between Deputy Director of DFID in London and a Chin delegation.
Last year, the Indian government made a surprising financial contribution of 8 million US dollars to improve the ‘long-neglected’ situation of health, education, road and social conditions in Chin State.
One of the local community leaders in Hakha, Chin State told Chinland Guardian: “It is great that we now can breathe more freely. We have heard about development projects and issues being discussed from here and there but only time will tell whether they are delivered effectively for the people. After having lived in the darkness for so long, it is not that easy for us to immediately put our complete trust on the government.”
During a closed-door meeting with representatives and leaders of 21 development and humanitarian agencies in Hakha Town late last year, Chin State government warned the works of any NGOs should not include anything that would disturb or interfere with the government.
Meanwhile, Chin State remains off limit to tourists, with an exception of a small part in the southern region.
Van Biak Thang