Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, International Cooperation and Crisis Response, will arrive in Thailand on Saturday. She will visit camps hosting refugees from Burma and will discuss with the Royal Thai Government the concrete measures to build a sustainable future for the refugees.
“Right now, the world’s attention is focusing on another humanitarian emergency – that in Northern Africa, but we cannot lose sight of these other places, such as Thailand, where humanitarian needs persist and where we have the chance to be part of the solution,” Commissioner Georgieva said ahead of her trip. “For the last 20 years, Thailand has graciously provided asylum to the people fleeing violence in their native Burma. During my trip, I will express Europe’s appreciation for this positive role, and will continue the dialogue on finding durable solutions for the refugees,” she emphasized.
Commissioner Georgieva will travel to the Mae Sot – Mae La camp in Western Thailand on 13 March. She will visit projects providing healthcare and food assistance funded by the European Commission as well as projects that improve refugees’ self-reliance. The Commissioner will meet with the local authorities, refugee representatives and partner organisations.
On 14 March in Bangkok, Commissioner Georgieva will meet with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, with whom she will discuss the Thai government’s active work on improving refugees’ access to education, justice and economic activities. The Commissioner will reiterate the European Union’s support for a long-term solution and will underline the importance of moving from hand-out relief to sustainable livelihood solutions for the refugees.
Today, over 140,000 refugees from Burma live in nine camps in Thailand. The European Commission is among the largest donors to the camps and since 1995 has provided, including this 2011 funding, €149 million: €103m of humanitarian funding and €46m through other longer-term assistance budgets. Over the same period, the Commission has also provided €132 million of humanitarian support within Burma.
Including Member States’ donors (DFID, SIDA, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, the United Kingdom), the European Union has been providing € 23 million per year since 2007 in humanitarian aid to the refugee camps in Thailand. This is more than half of the overall humanitarian support to the refugees and displaced along the border.
The European humanitarian assistance covers food support, basic healthcare, water and sanitation. Essential food aid is provided to over 65,000 refugees, and 100,000 benefit from basic medical services. The projects that receive financing from the European Union are implemented primarily through international non-governmental organisations and UNHCR.
To ensure that refugees get not only immediate support, but also a chance for a better future and greater self-reliance, the European Commission plans to gradually refocus its aid to camp residents – from humanitarian relief toward more sustainable support.
The European Commission allocated €110,000 to the Thai Red Cross to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to people affected by the floods which inundated the north-eastern and central provinces of Thailand in August and September 2010.