Lesley Crosson/Church World Service/New York, (212) 870=1676, firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com Jan Dragin - 24/7 - (781) 925-1526, firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CHURCH WORLD SERVICE CALLS ON U.N. FOR DEFINITIVE RESPONSETO BURMA'S MILITARY OFFENSIVE
U.N. Security Council to Focus Sept. 29 on Regime¹s Attacks in Eastern Burma
More than One Million Ethnic Civilians Forcibly Displaced by Burma's Military Dictatorship
NEW YORK, Sept 28 - Global humanitarian agency Church World Service (CWS) is calling on the United Nations Security Council to respond definitively to the offensive of Burma¹s military dictatorship against its civilians, including the forcible displacement of more than a million people and the destruction/relocation of more than 3,000 villages in eastern Burma. A UN Security Council meeting tomorrow (Fri September 29) will be the first time the council has addressed the increasing deterioration of Burma¹s civil life.
A forthcoming report from the Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC), of which CWS is a co-founder and an active partner, indicates alarming figures of 470,000 internally displaced people (IDPs), 82,000 of them displaced by war or human rights abuses in the past year alone.
Church World Service is calling for:
-The U.N. Security Council (UNSC) to pass a resolution requiring Burma's military regime to stop attacking ethnic nationalities. The longer the Security Council waits, the more villages will be destroyed and the more people will die.
-The U.N. Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan, to publicly condemn the latest attacks by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) on ethnic nationalities in eastern Burma.
In the past year, Burma¹s military regime, the SPDC has destroyed, relocated or forced abandonment of 232 villages, bringing the total to 3,077 in the last decade. About 95,000 IDPs currently live in hiding in the jungle, while 118,000 IDPs currently reside in "relocation sites." Two hundred fifty seven thousand IDPs are currently in "ceasefire areas."
Says CWS Executive Director and CEO John L. McCullough, "This humanitarian nightmare has gone completely unaddressed by the U.N. Security Council, and is one of the world's least known."
Since the end of 2005, Burma¹s military junta has escalated attacks against civilians, in particular against the country¹s Karen ethnic minority. In early April, the SPDC attacked villages in Ton Oo and Yong Lay Pin townships, burning villages, destroying food supplies and committing atrocities. The attacks continue.
Up to 20,000 people have been driven from their homes in eastern Burma in this latest brutal ³anti-insurgency² campaign. Some have been tortured and/or killed.
Some observers believe these are the most serious attacks since 1997. Burma apparently is attempting to clear the territory east of Burma¹s new capital city of any ethnic armed groups, including the Karen National Union, along with ethnic nationalities¹ civilians. Burma's military regime continues its unrelenting suppression of political and ethnic opposition to its rule.
As a result, at least 700,000 refugees have fled Burma and another half million of Burma¹s more than 50 million citizens are internally displaced in eastern Burma alone.
Refugees from the latest offensive against the Karen are arriving in neighboring Thailand with ³stories of increased junta troop activity, destruction of villages and crops, and human rights abuses,² reports Jack Dunford, Executive Director of the Thailand Burma Border Consortium.
Church World Service is an international relief, refugee assistance and sustainable development agency working in 80 countries, including regional offices in Southeast Asia.