Famine Seminar Held In India’s Southern Mizoram
More than 1,200 people from 123 villages of Burma’s Chin State attended a five-day famine seminar from 17-21 January 2009, organised in Mizoram’s Tipa Town, India by Mawta Famine Relief Committee (MFRC).
The seminar, recognising difficulties encountered by the UN in securing access to some areas in Chin State, called on World Food Programme (WFP) to use more facilities to get food aid directly into the remote areas, which are not easily accessible by road.
WFP and its Cooperating Partners have responded to the rat crisis by launching a ‘Food plus Cash for Work’ programme in 6 townships, designed to increase community assets while providing livelihood opportunities to acquire food. The activities will focus on improving productive assets that will increase their food security, such as agriculture land development, construction of trafficable roads, as well as others identified by the communities themselves.
“Villagers complained that no tools or machinery for road constructions are provided and that they have got to use pick-axes and knives. Only those villagers who take part in the construction activities are given food, meaning a large sector of vulnerable people including the elderly, young and disabled are being overlooked,” said the seminar’s report.
A recent report by WFP said that preparations are well underway, implementing technical planning, distribution preparations, as well as advocacy efforts with local authorities. Partners and community members are in the process of procuring non-food items necessary for the projects including construction material and tools for land development, the report added.
The villagers also demanded that the food should be given without conditions of work attached as villagers have been living without proper nutrition since the start of the famine while the importance of road constructions in the region for their long-term survival is accepted and supported.
“The cash component is added to meet additional food needs. The cash earned will also help get out of debts for those who borrowed to endure the crisis. A total of 6,360 households in 50 villages in the project areas will benefit from the assistance,” according to the WFP’s report.
Chris Kaye, WFP Country Director and Representative in Burma said: “The remoteness of the region and the challenging operating environment in Myanmar do serve as obstacles to our operations. However, please be assured that the UN family in collaboration with our NGO partners will continue to do all we can to bring relief to those in need and will do so in accordance with humanitarian principles and following rights based approaches.”
The famine seminar also urged the UN to consider cross-border aid from India for those villagers along the Indian-Burmese border, to distribute food supplies from larger towns to remote villages and to make a clear commitment to the region including health and education for long-term security.
Mawta Famine Relief Committee (MFRC), a humanitarian organization, is committed to working effectively in response to the deadly ‘bamboo-and-rat-related’ famine and efficiently distributing the relief aids to the worst effected victims in the remote Chin Hill Tracks of Burma.
Van Biak Thang
02 March, 2009