Australia confirmed it will not continue funding an award-winning clinic for Myanmar refugees on the Thai border due to Canberra’s support for the policy encouraging those refugees to return home enacted by the Myanmar government.
“Australia is funding organizations on the Thai-Myanmar border whose assistance aligns with the current and prospective needs of refugees,” a spokesperson from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told Devex. “An independent evaluation of Australia’s existing programs recommended future support focus on preparing refugees to return home when conditions permit.”
The spokesperson explained that after an independent evaluation of Australia’s existing programs in the area recommended future support to focus on preparing refugees to return home when conditions permit, the agency “completed a competitive tender process for a new aid package for refugees.” Over the next two years, AusAID has allocated AU$8 million for NGOs to provide food and shelter, basic healthcare, education and vocational training for refugees willing to return to Myanmar after the official end of military rule in 2010.
But the Mae Tao Clinic will not be one of the beneficiaries.
“A proposal to partially fund the Mae Tao Clinic was unsuccessful as it did not align with the objectives of the new program and its services do not reach as many refugees as those of successful applicants,” said the statement from DFAT.
Kate Lee, a senior official from the clinic’s Australian partner Union Aid Abroad, previously told Devex that Canberra now feels that with the changing political climate in Myanmar, a “gradual withdrawal of services from the border” is in order, but Maung stressed it’s too early for that, especially considering the appalling conditions of healthcare in the country.
As associate editor for breaking news, Carlos Santamaria supervises Devex's Manila-based news team and the creation of our daily newsletter. Carlos joined Devex after a decade working for international wire services Reuters, AP, Xinhua, EFE and Philippine social news network Rappler in Madrid, Beijing, Manila, New York and Bangkok. During that time, he also covered natural disasters on the ground in Myanmar and Japan.
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