New Report Shows Burmese Forced to Adopt Coping Strategies amid Sufferings

A new report detailing the suffering of and coping strategies adopted by Burmese citizens received praise from Church World Service, which has worked in Burma for more than 20 years.

"That the TBBC's detailed and comprehensive field research gives attention to humanitarian protection issues puts this report on the cutting edge," said Erol Kekic, Associate Director of the Immigration and Refugee Program of Church World Service in a released statement.

The report, “Internal Displacement and Protection in Eastern Burma,” was prepared by the Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC), an alliance of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working with displaced Burmese in Thailand and along the Thailand-Burma border. Church World Service (CWS) is a co-founder and major supporter of TBBC.

Studies indicate that suffering Burmese citizens are adopting survival strategies such as hiding food supplies, devising hiding places, and employing other extreme coping strategies in anticipation of attacks and forced relocations by the militant regime.

According to reports, Burma’s militant regime controls the country through the destruction and forced relocation of entire villages, arrest, detention, torture, rape, extrajudicial killings, forced labor, trafficking of women as sex workers, and the confiscation of people’s land, crops, and other possessions.

The report by TBBC calls for inclusion of humanitarian protection issues in discussions with the regime as pressure from the international community increases.

"Aggression against the people of eastern Burma has been well documented, but until now, there has been very little information on humanitarian efforts to prevent abuse and to mitigate its consequences when it does occur," said CWS’s Kekic.

Through publishing its research, gathered through questionnaires and interviews, the TBBC "seeks to inform the development of humanitarian protection strategies by internally displaced persons and other civilians whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by war, abuse and violence."

The humanitarian violations in Burma has resulted in about 550,000 to 800,000 displaced citizens within Burma (also called Myanmar), according to the 2005 World Refugee Survey. And an additional 691,800 Burmese seeking refuge in neighboring countries. Burma has total of 55 million citizens.

In its more than two decades of work with displaced Burmese, CWS has worked to meet the survival needs of people by providing food, shelter, blankets, and mosquito nets for the more than 140,000 refugees in the border camps.