Burma Campaign UK is calling on the British government to reverse cuts in international aid, and to protect the aid budget for Burma in light of the military coup and growing humanitarian crisis in the country.
No announcement has yet been made on expected cuts in the Burma aid budget. The 2020-2021 aid budget for Burma was £88 million.
The humanitarian situation in Burma was already dire, with hundreds of thousands of people homeless because of attacks and human rights violations by the military, and millions living in poverty.
Since the military coup in February the situation has got much worse. More than half the population is living in poverty and another 60,000 people have fled their homes because of bombing attacks by the military. It is highly likely that conflict will escalate and the humanitarian crisis will get worse.
“Aid to Burma needs to be increased, but instead it’s going to be cut at a time when the need has never been greater,” said Karin Valtersson, Campaigns Officer at Burma Campaign UK. “The aid budget for Burma must be protected. Aid should be given to local civil society organisations who know best how to help their own communities.”
Following the coup, the British government was right to stop development aid in cooperation with the government, as the military controls the machinery of government. However, stopping these projects should not be seen as an easy way to cut money from the aid budget. Instead the money should be redirected to the most vulnerable in the country.
As a result of successful campaigns by Burma Campaign UK, there were already strict rules in place to prevent aid reaching the military.
In particular Burma Campaign UK is asking for aid to be prioritised for:
- Internally displaced people (IDPs), and refugees from Burma. The support for these groups was already underfunded before the coup.
- Increasing cross-border aid, which is often the only way to reach the most vulnerable people in ethnic states.
- To channel support to and through local, grassroots organisations, which have real knowledge about the needs on the ground. These groups have always been underfunded and are playing a crucial role right now in supporting activists fleeing central Burma to hide from the military in the jungle, as well as providing food and shelter for the increasing numbers of IDPs.
- To support local grassroots organisations documenting human rights abuses.
“Dominic Raab’s aid cuts coming on top of the military coup, and the human rights violations and economic damage which has followed, would be a cruel blow to the people of Burma and a betrayal by the British government,” said Karin Valtersson.
Burma Campaign UK has launched a public campaign to lobby against the aid cuts. Members of the public are asked to write to the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, here.