We just talked to the head of the Karen Refugee Committee, here is the latest...There continues to be additional families making their way out of Burma. Nong Bua Camp is growing the fastest because a semblance of order has been established since we rented the land for the camp to be established. We have increased 102 families at the Nong Bua Camp since July.
Refugees are primarily in three locations;
Nong Bua 322 families 1946 people total
Mae Ue Sue 304 families 1988 people total
Mae Salit Luang 84 families 430 people total
We work directly with the local Karen refugee committee. Pastor Robert is the head honcho and is the "go to guy" for every detail as he is updated daily on each location. We have known and been working with Pastor Robert over 15 years. He was especially helpful back in 1995 when over 100,000 refugees flooded out of Burma. 90+% of our staff are Karen people so we speak the local lingo and have a special heart for these people and we are very well connected to all the senior officials all along the Thai - Burma border region.
The Thai Government and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have been checking on all situations but it is pretty much still massively disorganized. Except for the land we rented at Nong Bua to establish the camp, the government has not allowed any permanent location to be used. At Mae Ue Su and Mae Salit Luang, the refugees are still camped out all over the place; in fields, along streams, at schools, at temples, in people yards, etc..
The existence is day to day with no one really knowing where the next meal is coming from. Our team and Pastor Robert and all locally concerned people involved would like to coordinate a regular delivery of food stuffs. We are currently trying to do this bi-weekly. Very similar to what we established at the tsunami outreach. We have been making packs of food that consist of rice, noodles, cooking oil, canned fish, etc. Our packs have been costing around $6.00/family unit. However, we have been asked that if at all possible, to begin including some fresh food stuff as no one is getting anything fresh at all. We can buy truck loads of squash, onions, garlic and green leaf veggies for distribution with our packs. A $10.00 pack would be a very good mix for a family on a bi-weekly drop.A simple number crunch would be $14,200.00/month for 4,364 people, $3.25/person, or about a dime a day per person. On top of this, we also have our operational expenses; the rent of the Nong Bua Camp @ $300.00/ month and the care for 74 children that we inherited out of this deal. We are covering $10.00/head on the kids = $740.00/month. We don't have to pay any salaries as all the outreaches are conducted by our staff. We utilize the bible school students to pack all the food prior to a drop. Our children at our various homes are willing to help with anything on weekends as well.
In a nutshell....$16,500.00 per month can fully fund the food relief for the refugee crisis. We continue to buy tarps, mosquito nets, blankets, sleeping mats, water containers and cooking utensils for the new arrivals.
We had a surge of money come through when we initially began reporting the situation. That has slacked by the second and third report. The challenge is that the crisis situation has not slacked off at all and as you can see by the numbers, the refugees are growing continually.
We have worked this border for over 20 years and I think this is "The Big One." What I mean by that is that the Burmese have effectively opened everything up and as they have declared that they will annihilate any Karen remaining that do not join their cause. The Thai government has been holding back on giving the refugees any permanent facility thinking the refugees will return to Burma once things settle down. I predict that this will not happen and that these folks are on the Thai side to stay. They will continue to trickle over as they see nothing is changing on the Burma side.
On a positive note, last year over 10,000 Karen people were relocated to third countries from the Mae Laa Refugee Camp alone. I see that this will be the future of these people...each year more and more will be relocated. The USA and Australia have been the top ranking countries for relocation at this point. I have pondered this situation since 1995 and wondered how it would all end. Each year got more and more constrictive within Burma. I think the relocation of the people is the only real answer for the Karen people at this point.
These are the stats. If there is anything you can do to help us it would be tremendously appreciated.
God Bless You Richly!
Charlie and Cathy
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