Monday, October 29, 2007

What's It like to live like a Refugee or IDP?


There are more than 1 million refugees from Burma living in Thailand, India, and Bangladesh, but at least 2 million internally displaced peoples (IDPs), mainly ethnic minorities, who are fleeing from the attacking Burma Army. IDPs are basically refugees in their own countries. As they remain on territory under sovereign national jurisdiction, they are not given refugee status and are not protected by international law. They do not have the same access to basic humanitarian aid that is available to recognized refugees, so their situation is all that much more dire. In the jungle, they not only have to avoid soldiers, but landmines, tropical diseases, hunger, and the elements as well.

The most important concern that IDPs have is basic survival. Here are the everyday worries of IDPs (and refugees):

* Will I be safe?
* What will I eat?
* How do I find water?
* Can I get medical care?
* Where will I live?

Medicins San Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) has an interactive refugee camp that gives further insight into the hardships and situations that refugees and IDPs face on a daily basis. It is not Burma-specific, but does touch on general challenges that is representative of the refugee/IDP experience. Scroll down to the bottom of this page, and towards the bottom, click on "interactive guide"

A backgrounder on the global refugee/IDP situation HERE.

You can help refugees and IDPs from Burma by DONATING:
- DONATE to Partners Relief and Development's 5 Alive Program. $50 can help keep a family of 5 IDPs alive for one month. Read more HERE.

- DONATE: The Mae Tao Clinic (MTC), founded and directed by Dr. Cynthia Maung, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, provides free health care for refugees, migrant workers, and other individuals who cross the border from Burma to Thailand. People of all ethnicities and religions are welcome at the Clinic. Its origins go back to the student pro-democracy movement in Burma in 1988 and the brutal repression by the Burmese regime of that movement. The fleeing students who needed medical attention were attended in a small house in Mae Sot.

You can help the clinic continue its work by either DONATINGor VOLUNTEERING.