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Tell Australia: Don't Turn Your Back On Burma

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Sponsor: The Hunger Site

Tell AusAID to continue its vital support for Dr. Cynthia's Mae Tao Clinic, helping hundreds of thousands in need.

First established over 30 years ago by Dr. Cynthia Maung, Mae Tao Clinic is perhaps the largest and most renowned community-run aid organization in Southeast Asia, serving thousands of migrants and refugees from Myanmar living in and around the Thai city of Mae Sot1.

Each year, the clinic has helped more than 150,000 refugees, unemployed, farmers, and migrant workers in need on the Burma/Thai border2.

While Dr. Cynthia was awarded Australia's prestigious Sydney Peace Prize for her work3, the Australian government completely cut its support for the Mae Tao Clinic. AusAID believes that since the official war in the country has ceased, everyone should go home.

It's not that easy.

Hundreds of thousands of people crossed into Thailand to trade everything they had for safety4. What they left behind has been ravaged by conflict and neglect or confiscated by the former Burmese government.

Landmines and possible violence, not to mention a completely depleted infrastructure, await anyone who returns now. While the U.S. yet warns against travel to the country5.

Further, a new wave of coronavirus cases, along with closed borders and a crackdown on aid by the military, which has been accused of hoarding medical supplies for its own use — are stretching the organization's abilities to the limit6.

AusAID's support can make a big difference for tens of thousands of people in need every year. Sign the petition and tell Australia's Foreign Minister to support the Mae Tao clinic once again.

More on this issue:

  1. The World (21 January 2020), "With less foreign aid, Thai clinic struggles to serve migrants and refugees from Myanmar."
  2. Chiara Trincia, International Rescue Committee (2022), "Mae Tao—lifeline on the border for Burmese refugees."
  3. Sydney Peace Foundation (2022), "2013 Dr Cynthia Maung."
  4. Human Rights Watch, "A Profile Of Burmese Refugees In Thailand."
  5. DCA Mine Action (2011), "Humanitarian Impact of Landmines in Burma/Myanmar."
  6. Victoria Milko, Associated Press (19 August 2021), "Ethnic health care systems strained in Myanmar amid pandemic."
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The Petition:

To Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs,

The Australian Government justly chose to award Dr. Cynthia Muang the prestigious Sydney Peace Prize for her work on the Burma/Thai border in 2013. Her Mae Tao clinic helps more than 150,000 people in need of medical treatment, including those displaced by conflict. Anything left behind by these refugees was ravaged by conflict and neglect - or confiscated by Burma's government. Landmines and possible violence, not to mention a completely depleted infrastructure, await them if they return now.

But AusAID, once an extremely significant donor, completely cut funding for the Mae Tao clinic in 2014. This is the wrong choice. Tens of thousands of people remain in need of help - people who cannot return to their homes in the current situation, as well as impoverished people who would receive no medical attention without the Mae Tao Clinic.

AusAID's intention to help organizations working inside Burma is admirable. But the current lack of health infrastructure and human rights in the country means that it will be years before returning refugees and other populations have access to basic resources, much less to effective comprehensive healthcare. In an area where 70% of deaths are caused by readily preventable medical conditions like malaria and pneumonia, what will these refugees do without work like Dr. Cynthia's?

Please restore funding to the Mae Tao clinic. The current need is vital.


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