Médecins Sans Frontières to withdraw from Thailand

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – An important source for medical and health services for Burmese refugees and migrant workers, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), has announced it will withdraw its services in Thailand. No date was given when the announcement was made in Bangkok on Tuesday.


MSF-logoနယူးေဒလီ (မဇၩိမ) ။ ။ တိဘက္ႏွင့္ ျမန္မာ ျပည္သူမ်ား၏ အၾကမ္းမဲ့ ႏွလံုးရည္ တိုက္ပြဲလမ္း ခက္ခဲမည္ ျဖစ္ ေသာ္လည္း ယံုၾကည္ ခ်က္ ခိုင္မာစြာ ဆက္လက္ ေလွ်ာက္လွမ္းသြားၾကဖို႔ ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရး ႏိုဗယ္ဆုရွင္ တိဘက္ ဘာသာေရးေခါင္းေဆာင္ ဘုန္းေတာ္ႀကီး ဒလိုင္းလားမားက တိုက္တြန္း လိုက္သည္။

The health group, which had 41 staff in Thailand in 2010, has been working in the country since 1976, serving Burmese and other refugees along the Thai-Burmese border by providing medical assistance and other services to a refugee population which numbers more than 130,000 people.

“MSF faces an increased tension on its resources due to the importance of the emergency interventions in the Operational Centre Brussels portfolio, such as the Arab springs in Libya, Syria and the crisis in the Horn of Africa, which are forcing MSF to prioritize its interventions,” said a letter signed by Mr. Denis Penoy, the head of mission of MSF-Belgium-Thailand, dated September 7.

When MSF withdraws, Burmese refugees and others living along the Thai-Burmese border will encounter health difficulties, said the Mon National Health Committee (MNHC).


“In our Mon area, with support by the MSF, we have eradicated malaria among more than 10,000 IDPs (Internally displaced persons) and more than 10,000 people. If MSF withdraws from Thailand, our people will suffer many consequences,” MNHC official Naing Chay Mon said.

The MSF branch office in Chedi Sam Ong, adjacent to Three Pagoda Pass, was closed in late June by order of the  Thai authorities, affecting about 5,000 Burmese migrant workers in the area.

MSF also provides medical assistance to refugees along the Cambodia-Laos border, and to Hmong refugees in Phetchabun Province. Since 1999, it provided health services and helped to eradicate tuberculosis and malaria among Burmese migrant workers in Tak Province and refugees in Mae La camp.

From 2005 until 2009, it opened clinics serving thousands of Burmese Tsunami-victims from Phang Nga Province in southern Thailand and appointed Burmese health workers to staff its health centres. It has also run a health service programme for Burmese workers in Samat Sakhon Province in Thailand and people living around Three Pagoda Pass on the Thai-Burmese border.

Among its projects in Thailand are the “Kayah backpackers,” based in Mae Hong Son, in the north of Thailand.

MSF staff in Thailand train “backpackers” from Burma so they could provide basic healthcare. The backpackers then traveled back across the border and worked as mobile medical teams, visiting people living in remote villages in Kayah State in eastern Burma.

MSF closed its malaria project in New Mon State at the end of June. Staff working from a base on the Thai side of the border had been supporting malaria control initiatives in Burma, distributing mosquito nets, training community health workers and diagnosing and treating patients.

In the Three Pagoda Pass area, MSF served unregistered migrant workers who were excluded from healthcare, and undocumented migrants in need of care who fear that a visit to a health centre may result in deportation.

In Samut Sakhon, an industrial zone where thousands of undocumented migrants live and work, MSF staff operated a clinic that diagnosed and treated 170 people for cholera after an outbreak at the end of 2010.

Burmese Regime Excludes Arakan’s Danyawaddy from World Heritage List

Mrauk U: The Burmese regime has excluded the Danyawaddy, the most ancient city in Arakan as well as Burma, from the list of cities it has proposed to be added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, which included the cities of Beikthano, Halin, and Tharay-Khit-Taya (Sri Ksetra) that were established much later than Danyawaddy.


dhanyawaddy-palace-gateDanyawaddy palace entrance with the Mahamuni pagoda.

The nominally elected Minister of Information and Culture U Kyaw San said during the people’s parliament session that convened on 20 September that his regime has been cooperating with UNESCO for international standards of preservation for Burmese heritage sites, and has proposed the three ancient cities of Burma – Beikthano, Halin, and Tharay-Khit-Taya – be added to the World Heritage List.


Kyaw San also said that they have now reached the final stage of verification by UNESCO for inclusion of those three cities on the list, and the cities will become recognized as part of world heritage after UNESCO’s finalizing work.

However, it was found that Danyawaddy, the most ancient city in western Burma’s Arakan State, and one established much earlier than the proposed cities, was excluded from the list of cities proposed for inclusion on the World Heritage List.

U Kyaw Tun Aung, the former in-charge of the Arakan Cultural Museum and a veteran scholar of ancient Arakan history, told Narinjara that Danyawaddy in Arakan State is much older than the ancient cities proposed by the Burmese regime.

“Danyawaddy was the third and last city in the ancient history of Arakan. The last Danyawaddy existed from 6th Century BC to 4th Century AD. But Beikthano, Halin, and other Burmese cities came to exist from 1st Century AD to 9th Century AD. So Arakan’s Danyawaddy is much more ancient than those Burmese cities,” said U Kyaw Tun Aung. Continue reading “Burmese Regime Excludes Arakan’s Danyawaddy from World Heritage List”

Burma Army launches storm-offensive to KIA

The Burma Army has launched a storm-offensive with over 1,000 troops against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA)’s Brigade 4, based in Northern Shan State, in the country’s northeast, said witnesses.

The heavy fighting, with exchange of artillery, began about 4 a.m. It is happening around Loikang, under the command of Brigade 4, near Kutkai, said a KIA officer in the brigade.kia-ba-4

According to brigade officers, the battle is happening now at Huphet, Manje, Mung Hkawm, Bang Hpik and Dima.

KIA troops of Battalion 2, Battalion 8 and Battalion 9 are resisting the government’s offensive by two Light Infantry Divisions—LID No. 88 and No. 99, which include over 15 battalions.
The government offensive was commanded by Lt-Gen Aung Than Htut, Commander of Burma Army’s Bureau of Special Operations-2 (BSO-2), said KIA officers. Continue reading “Burma Army launches storm-offensive to KIA”

Burma Army shoots down KNLA peace moves

KNLA soldiers on paradeLast week the Karen National Union announced in a media statement that it would hold a ceasefire day to acknowledge the United Nation’s International Day of Peace. The KNU statement asked the Burma government to do likewise.“To demonstrate our commitment to peace, and respect for the United Nations, the KNU will observe a unilateral one-day ceasefire on 21st September 2011…the KNU calls on President Thein Sein to also order his Army to cease all military activities on the International Day of Peace.”In spite of the KNU’s optimism the Burma Army ignore the KNU’s request and attacked a Karen army camp at Htee Wah Blaw area, near Myawaddy Township. A Karen National Liberation Army, Colonel Saw Eh Hser Hser, toldKaren News that despite shelling from the Burma Army and Border Guard forces, the Karen army refused to retaliate. The Colonel said the attack happened on the morning of the International Peace Day.

“They [Burma Army and Border Guard Force] shelled us but we didn’t fire back. Thankfully, there were no injuries.”

KNU vice chairman David Tharc Kapaw said the Burma Army’s action has shown that it has no regard for international laws or convention. Continue reading “Burma Army shoots down KNLA peace moves”