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Thailand’s Humanitarian Aid to Myanmar: Balancing Relief Efforts Amidst Conflict

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Thailand's Humanitarian Aid to Myanmar Balancing Relief Efforts Amidst Conflict

(CTN News) – Thailand sent humanitarian aid to Myanmar on Monday, aiming to alleviate the misery of millions displaced by conflict.

However, critics argue that the relief will only help those in areas controlled by the Myanmar military, giving them a propaganda boost while leaving the great majority of displaced people in contested areas without access to assistance.

Myanmar is currently experiencing a nationwide military conflict following the army’s removal of Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected administration in February 2021 and the suppression of nonviolent rallies calling for democratic reforms. The conflict has uprooted millions of people and devastated the economy.

Aid Delivery: Details of Thailand’s Humanitarian Effort

Thailand transported 10 trucks from the northern province of Tak across the border, delivering roughly 4,000 bundles of aid to three towns in Kayin State, also known as Karen State. The aid will be handed to approximately 20,000 displaced persons.

The shipments contained help valued at approximately 5 million baht ($138,000), primarily food, quick beverages, and other necessities such as toiletries.

According to UN agencies, more than 2.8 million people in Myanmar have been displaced, the majority of them as a result of conflict that erupted following the army’s takeover. They claim 18.6 million people, including 6 million children, require humanitarian assistance.

Carl Skau, Chief Operating Officer of the United Nations World Food Programme, stated earlier this month that one out of every four displaced people faces extreme food insecurity.

The Thai Red Cross is leading the initiative for what has been dubbed a humanitarian corridor, with funds from Thailand’s Foreign Ministry and logistical help from the army, which has traditionally played a significant part in border activities.

thailand sends aid to war torn myanmar but critics say it will only help junta

Thailand and Myanmar’s Kayin State officials attended a send-off ceremony by Vice Foreign Minister Sihasak Phuangketkeow. The Red Cross of Myanmar will coordinate the humanitarian delivery.

Drivers from Myanmar drove the trucks across the 2nd Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge, which spans the Moei River on the border.

“That corridor puts humanitarian aid in the hands of the junta because it goes into the hands of the junta-controlled Myanmar Red Cross,” Tom Andrews, the United Nations independent human rights specialist on Myanmar, said last week.

“So we know that the junta weaponizes these resources, including humanitarian aid, and uses them to their military strategic advantage. The truth is that the junta is to blame for the dire need for humanitarian relief.”

Andrews stated that the places in severe need are “conflict zones in which the junta has no influence or control whatsoever.” So they are the topics we should concentrate on.”

Anti-military resistance movements, including pro-democracy fighters and armed ethnic minority organizations, have been fighting for greater autonomy in large sections of the country, particularly along the borders.

According to Thai officials, the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management will monitor the distribution process to ensure its fairness and equality.

Following the event, Vice Foreign Minister Sihasak stated that the relief is likely to be delivered to the three towns on the same day, and Myanmar will provide images to confirm delivery.

“I’d like to highlight that this humanitarian help is unrelated to Myanmar’s politics or hostilities. “I believe that people should prioritize the interests of the Myanmar people,” he remarked.

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“Of course, if the initiative today is carried out smoothly and meets the objectives that we set, Thailand as a neighbor will see how we can expand the help to other areas.”

Thailand began the humanitarian corridor project in January, with cooperation from Myanmar and other ASEAN states, at an ASEAN Foreign Ministers Retreat in Laos.

Thai Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara stated that ASEAN must vigorously seek to execute what it refers to as the Five-Points Consensus, which was reached just a few months after the army took over in 2021.

The accord called for an immediate cessation of violence, talks among all relevant parties, mediation by an ASEAN special envoy, humanitarian relief through ASEAN channels, and the special envoy’s visit to Myanmar to meet with all concerned parties.

However, although originally agreeing to the consensus, Myanmar’s generals failed to act on it, leaving ASEAN appearing weak.

Dulyapak Preecharush, a Southeast Asia Studies professor at Bangkok’s Thammasat University, said the aid project is a good start for Thailand, which has been “quiet and inactive” about Myanmar.

“The readiness of Thailand to deliver the aid is not an issue, but when the aid is delivered to Myanmar, it will face obstacles from violent fighting and different stakeholders who will have their gains and losses.”

Sihasak stated that Thailand expects the aid to be given equitably and honestly and that its distribution will contribute to the peace process in Myanmar by creating a “good atmosphere” for the country.

Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, she crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. Her writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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