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Every year, Dr. Cynthia Muang's Mae Tao Clinic helps more than 150,000 refugees, unemployed, farmers, and migrant workers in need on the Burma/Thai border. Now, even as Dr. Cynthia has been awarded Australia's prestigious Sydney Peace Prize for her work over the last 24 years, the Australian government has decided to completely cut support for the Mae Tao Clinic. AusAID believes that since the official cessation of hostilities has come to pass, it's time for everyone to go home.
Anyone who has studied the situation knows it's not that easy. These are people who crossed into Thailand to trade everything they had for safety. What they left behind has been 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. Does AusAID think repatriation can be completed overnight? Most sources, including UNHCR, dispute that idea.
Tell Australia's Foreign Minister to keep supporting the Mae Tao clinic. As the clinic's second largest donor, AusAID's support makes a difference for tens of thousands of people in need every year.
Hon. Julie Bishop,
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. 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, an extremely significant donor, has made the decision to 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 retun 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.