Thailand sends aid to war-torn Myanmar, but critics say it will only help junta

Mar25,2024



MAE SOT: Thailand delivers first batch of humanitarian aid war torn myanmar Officials expect continued efforts on Monday to ease the plight of millions of people displaced by the fighting.
But critics allege that this assistance will benefit only the people of the areas covered under it. myanmar armycontrol of, giving it a publicity boost while leaving the vast majority Displaced people In conflict areas without access to aid.
Myanmar has been ravaged by a nationwide armed conflict that began in February 2021 after the military suppressed widespread nonviolent protests demanding the ouster of Aung San Suu Kyi and the return of democratic rule. The fighting has displaced millions of people and damaged the economy.
Thailand sent ten trucks over the border from the northern province of Tak, carrying about 4,000 packages of aid to three towns in Kayin State, also known as Karen State, where it would be distributed to about 20,000 displaced people.
The parcel included about 5 million baht ($138,000) in aid, mostly food, instant beverages and other basic items such as toiletries.
According to UN agencies, more than 2.8 million people have been displaced in Myanmar, the majority due to fighting that followed the military takeover. He says 18.6 million people, including 6 million children, are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Carl Skau, chief operating officer of the U.N. World Food Program, said earlier this month that one in four of those displaced are at risk of severe food insecurity.
What has been called the Humanitarian Corridor is being initiated by the Thai Red Cross, with funding from Thailand's Foreign Ministry and logistics support from the military, which has traditionally played a major role in border activities.
Officials from Thailand and Myanmar's Kayin State attended the farewell ceremony, which was presided over by Thai Deputy Foreign Minister Sihasak Phungketkaew. Myanmar's Red Cross will handle aid distribution.
Myanmar drivers took the trucks across the second Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge, which crosses the Moi River on the border.
“That corridor puts humanitarian aid into the hands of the junta because it puts it into the hands of the junta-controlled Myanmar Red Cross,” Tom Andrews, the UN's independent human rights expert on Myanmar, said last week.
“So we know that the junta takes these resources, including humanitarian ones, and weapons them, uses them for its own military strategic advantage. The truth of the matter is that this is precisely the reason humanitarian assistance is so desperately needed Junta.”
Andrews said the areas most in dire need are “conflict areas in which the junta has absolutely no influence or control. So these are the areas we need to focus on.”
Large areas of the country, especially border areas, are now fought for or controlled by anti-military resistance forces, including pro-democracy fighters linked to armed ethnic minority organizations that have been fighting for greater autonomy for decades.
Thai officials say the distribution process will be monitored by the ASEAN Coordination Center for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management to ensure it reaches people fairly and equitably.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sihasak said after the ceremony that the aid was expected to be delivered to the three cities the same day, and that Myanmar would send photographs as proof of it being delivered.
He said, “I would like to emphasize that this is truly humanitarian aid and has nothing to do with Myanmar politics or conflict. I think now people should be concerned about the interests of the people of Myanmar as a priority.” We should think accordingly.” “Of course, if the initiative today runs smoothly, and meets the objectives we have set, Thailand as a neighbor will look at how we can extend assistance to other areas.”
The Humanitarian Corridor Project was launched by Thailand with the support of Myanmar and other fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations during the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Retreat in Laos in January.
Thai Foreign Minister Paranpri Bahidha-Nukara had said ASEAN needed to actively push to implement the five-point consensus it agreed to just months after the military's 2021 takeover.
The agreement called for an immediate end to the violence, dialogue between all concerned parties, mediation by the ASEAN Special Envoy, provision of humanitarian assistance through ASEAN channels and a visit by the Special Envoy to Myanmar to meet with all concerned parties.
But Myanmar's generals, despite initially agreeing to the consensus, failed to act on it, making ASEAN look powerless.
Dulyapak Preecharush, a professor of Southeast Asia studies at Bangkok's Thammasat University, said the aid initiative is a good start for Thailand, which has been quiet and passive regarding Myanmar.
“Thailand's readiness to provide aid is not an issue, but when aid is delivered to Myanmar, it will face violent fighting and obstacles from various stakeholders who will have their own advantages and disadvantages.”
Sihasak said Thailand hopes the aid will be distributed equitably and transparently, and that the distribution of aid will help create a “good environment” that will contribute to the peace process in Myanmar.



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