The Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) has said that approximately 10,000 people in southeastern Burma were displaced from their homes during the past year in comparison to an average of 75,000 people displaced every year during the previous decade.
The Bangkok-based group, which coordinates humanitarian supplies to the 145,000 refugees along the Thai-Burmese border, as well as hundreds of thousands of displaced persons inside Burma, said that the significant decrease in forced displacement comes after a series of cease-fire agreements were negotiated earlier this year with many of the region’s ethnic armed groups.
“While armed conflict continues in Kachin State and communal violence rages in Rakhine State, field surveys indicate that that there has been a substantial decrease in hostilities affecting Karen, Karenni, Shan and Mon communities,” said the TBBC in its annual report on Wednesday.
The report went on to say that while at least 400,000 internally displaced persons remain in rural areas of those states, the tentative return of 37,000 civilians to their villages or surrounding areas “reflects hope for an end to displacement.”
According to TBBC’s Executive Director Jack Dunford: “The challenge of transforming preliminary cease-fire agreements into a substantive peace process is immense, but this is the best chance we have ever had to create the conditions necessary to support voluntary and dignified return in safety.”
However, the TBBC report also stated that their survey suggested that “59% of households in rural communities of South East Myanmar are impoverished, with the indicators particularly severe in northern Karen areas where there have been allegations of widespread and systematic human rights abuse.”