This November, as part of our monthly partner focus, we look at the work of the Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) and how it helps Burmese refugees who have fled across the Thai border.
An estimated 140,000 Burmese refugees currently live in nine camps nestled along Thailand’s Burmese border. Many people have been there for more than two decades and refugees continue to flee to the camps for safety.
TBBC is a group of twelve international non-governmental agencies, which includes Christian Aid, which for the last 25 years has provided food and shelter to the refugees on the Thai/Burma border.
Watch an audio slideshow showing the plight of the Burmese refugees and how TBBC works to help them:
With the help of funds from Christian Aid supporters and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), TBBC runs a vast food relief programme in Thailand’s remote border region.
It ensures that each month, every refugee receives a basic ration of rice, fish paste, beans, chillies and vitamin supplements - for just £5 per person.
`If TBBC couldn’t support us, we would have huge problems because we wouldn’t be able to buy food,’ says Palaeh Mae, a 26-year-old mother who has been in one camp for a decade.
TBBC also provides refugees with stoves and fuel for cooking, and bamboo to build and repair simple but sturdy shelters.
But it is the refugees themselves who manage activities such as food distribution inside the camps with support from TBBC.
Self-reliance and resourcefulness
Burmese refugees in Thailand are not permitted to leave the camps to find work locally. TBBC has taught them to grow their own food using all the available space in the cramped confines of the camps to supplement the rations they receive.
It also helps the refugees develop productive ways of earning money inside the camps, such as employing women as weavers. With thread supplied by TBBC, women are able to weave colourful fabrics which are then distributed to the refugees as part of the clothing distribution programme.
‘Now I can pay for soap, shampoo, clothes and extra food for my family,’ says Nohmeh, a weaver in one of the camps.
As a member of the consortium, Christian Aid is able to successfully help TBBC secure vital support for this longstanding crisis from large donors such as DFID, as well as to press for long-term solutions to the Burmese crisis.
Read about Kho Ray who has spent all his life living in a refugee camp on the Thai/Burma border.