Protect refugees at risk during the
Writing to your MP is most effective when you make it personal.
David Linden, MP for Glasgow East, shares how we can write to our MP in a way that gets their attention, and also the importance of being a good witness by writing with “love, grace and patience”.
(if you don’t know your MP’s name, find them here.)
House of Commons
Here are some pointers for what to include in a letter to your MP about those especially vulnerable to COVID-19 in Burma.
Some background on Burma:
- Burma was ruled for over half a century by a succession of military regimes which consistently committed grave violations of human rights.
- The country has also endured over 70 years of civil war between the military and many of the ethnic nationalities who seek autonomy, leading to an estimated 350,000 internally displaced people inside the country and well over a million refugees on Burma’s borders.
- The situation is especially difficult for those in internally displaced persons camps, especially in Kachin, northern Shan and Rakhine states, and refugees from Burma, both the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and the mainly ethnic Karen and Karenni refugees in Thailand.
Specific concerns with the coronavirus in refugee camps in Bangladesh:
- The lockdown because of coronavirus is limiting individuals’ access to basic services including food and hygiene. International donors are providing less aid to these camps than the UN has said is necessary.
- The limited access to medical resources in the camps combined with the concentration of detainees could lead to a humanitarian disaster; social distancing is impossible.
- Limited access to clean water, poor sanitation and over-crowding, making basic steps such as washing hands regularly and social distancing impossible.
- Reports indicate there are no ventilators to help people.
Specific concerns with the coronavirus in refugee camps in Thailand:
- There have been cuts to international aid for the mainly ethnic Karen and Karenni refugees in Thailand. This has left many without access to food and medical care.
- Burma Campaign UK report that ‘2,300 people in Ei Tu Hta camp in Karen State have had all aid cut, leaving them without enough food, healthcare and vaccinations for children’.
Ask your MP to:
- Write a letter to the Secretary of State for International Development asking him to coordinate with other international donors to deliver an emergency package of aid to refugees and IDPsto cover their food, shelter and medical needs given the impact of COVID-19; to lobby the Burmese government to open all parts of the country to unhindered access for humanitarian aid organisations; and ensure that aid is provided through humanitarian groups working along the borders who are able to deliver aid cross-border
- Write a letter to the Foreign Secretary asking him to raise the increasingly dire situation of Burma’s refugees, in light of COVID-19, in all his interactions with relevant governments
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