Tag Archives: Chin

Support Health Care for Burmese in Delhi

In 2010 the Support Burmese Refugees Network in Delhi produced a video with the help of a microgrant received from Burma Center Prague. It focuses on the health care needs of Burmese refugees in Delhi.

Food from the garbage

The video depicts and describes how the Burmese refugees are living in very poor and cramped conditions and many have had to resort to taking rotten food from the market rubbish bins in order to feed themselves. These conditions, combined with the lack of adequate health care services, have helped create a continuing cycle of deteriorating health for them. The main diseases they suffer from are hepatitis, jaundice, cholera, and HIV/AIDS. Despite this they receive very little support from the Indian government or the UNHCR.

“We need more help”

Thankfully for the Burmese there are two health clinics which provide them with access to free health care. One of these is Yamuna, founded by Dr. Tint Swe.

The Yamuna clinic provides essential support in particular to women and children, providing maternity and other services. But the clinic needs more funds in order to have sufficient medicines and equipment. They are only open three days a week despite the growing need of the Burmese community. Dr. Tint Swe’s clinic receives 60 to 90 patients every day they are open. He says: “We need more help from other sympathisers”.

Insufficient medicines

The clinics do not have sufficient medicines and medicine is often prohibitively expensive for the refugees. One woman describes the costs for her father who is suspected to be sick with dengue fever: “We need to spend Rs 3000 to 4000 every week just for buying medicines. I wish and request any organizations and people of goodwill to help us.“
(Rs 3000 to 4000 is in the range of 1,400 Czech crowns).

The free medical clinics are a ‘relief’ to Burmese patients

The health clinics are therefore hugely important for the Burmese refugees. As one patient describes she was “very relieved” to have access to the clinic. “This is the only option for us to meet the doctor and get treatment free of costs and I am very pleased for that.”

How you can help

You can help support the Yamuna clinic by buying a micro-grant share through this website.

You can either watch the video now or read the transcript of the video.

Video transcript:

Mr Plato Vanrung Mang, in-charge of CHRO-Delhi, working for Chin refugees pointed out the situation in relation to UNHCR’s health assistance to Burmese refugees in Delhi.

“Related to the Chin refugee health care program, we are also helping them with service help to the refugees, because the UNHCR have this implementing partner which looks after the health care of Chin refugees in Delhi, but their service is very limited not only that they don’t have any health clinics or centres for the Chin refugees. And in terms of these medications, UNHCR is not providing any assistance to Burmese refugees. And they don’t have any open clinics or health centres for refugees.

So, in these situations, refugees have to approach Government hospital, and when they approach Government hospital the people are very crowded and because of discrimination of Indian authorities, sometimes they did not get service and care from this Government hospital. So at that time they prefer to go to private clinics but as the refugee they don’t have money to go to private clinics so many Chin refugees could not have health service either to private clinics or Government hospital. But the only health clinics and access we can get are community open health programs. We have two systems, one is Yamuna Clinic opened by Doctor Tint Swe, so many of them. Another one is open by the WRWRB led by Burmese woman so, but their medications and their medicines are very limited also so they don’t have enough sufficient medicines.”

Video titles:

Due to poor economic conditions the majority of the Burmese refugees rent rooms which are situated in the remote part of Vikas Puri and Janak Puri of the western part of Delhi. Due to contaminated environments, lack of nutrition and cramped rooms without proper ventilation their health condition is getting deteriorated. Even though UNHCR through its implementing partner like Don Bosco works for self-reliance program, the majority of the population remain at home knitting and stitching to earn for their daily meal.

The Burmese refugees buy vegetables from the weekly market. Though some are able to buy good and fresh vegetables, some still collect waste and leftover vegetables at night after the Indian vendors closed the market. Some refugees even collect vegetable and eatables from the market dustbin which is also one of the main factors for the deterioration of health conditions.

There are two Burmese refugee clinics, i.e Yamuna and WRWAB. Yamuna clinic is run by Dr. Tint Swe, a Burmese MP in exile and the other clinic (WRWAB) is run by a women’s group. Both the clinics work to promote the health condition and give treatment free of cost to Burmese refugees residing in Delhi.

Interview with Dr. Tint Swe (founder of the Yamuna clinic)

“The Yamuna clinic is a free clinic for Burmese community in India. It was opened in August 2002. It is free for all Burmese refugees whether they are recognised by UNHCR or not. We open voluntarily to help the plight of the health status of our Burmese refugees. Because refugees are not provided proper health care by any organisation or any government.

UNHCR trying to help to some extent for the health of Burmese refugees but it is not enough at all. So we opened that one. We trained refugee women to assist my clinic. So I have already trained over 35 Burmese women who can help at the clinic. So far we have been treating the patients as out patients three days a week Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday every evening. On the clinic days we are receiving at least 60 to maybe 90 patients every day. Apart from treating the patients as out patients we are also providing maternity care. We take care of the pre-natal women, we take care of delivery of child and we take care of post-delivery cases. But even then we need more help from other sympathisers.

UNHCR also came to our clinic a few years back. They provided some equipment and examination bed but that’s all. They visit my clinic from time to time. They just come and they just go, it’s not enough. So I try to ask UNHCR to provide practical assistance to the clinic. Because my clinic deliver directly to my patients.

Interview with a Burmese woman on the clinic:

“As we cannot afford to get treatment from private clinics we are very relieved when we received medicines and treatment free of costs from this clinic. If we go to other health centres, we will not only spend money but also have to wait for long hours to get the treatment. This is the only option for us to meet the doctor and get treatment free of costs and I am very pleased for that.

Interview with a Burmese patient:

“When I first visited DDU hospital I was told to go to GB hospital. I have to spend at least Rs.500 whenever I visited there. I used to go there around 6 am and stand in the queue. Since the queue is very long I could meet the Doctor only around 1pm. We always missed lunch whenever we visited this hospital. The doctor at GB Pant hospital advised me to go for a blood test and other check ups and when I inquired they said it will cost thirteen thousand Rupees. Since I cannot afford that amount I approached the YMCA and Women’s Centre for assistance but I was informed that it is not possible to support me financially.

Therefore, I requested them if it is possible for me to change the hospital where I can get free treatment since I cannot afford there. Whenever I inquired to the YMCA and Women’s Centre, they told me that my case has been reported to the UNHCR and they are still waiting for the response.

I have not taken medicine for almost a month now. I am facing a difficult life and more worse is that I cannot go for a blood test. My health is unusual these days, though I’m fine in the morning, fever will strike in the evening and my weight has been terribly reduced. My weight is only 38 kgs now though in the past 3 months I used to be 45 kgs and I don’t know what to eat. I haven’t consulted any Doctor and I am still waiting for my blood tests.

Since I am a Hepatitis C patient. I am receiving Rs 2700 per month as Subsistence Allowance (SA) from UNHCR which people think I am fortunate to receive this assistance. But this amount is not enough even for house rent and food. I am informed that my SA will be cut after 3 months and I don’t have any idea what I will do next, should I request UNHCR to continue the SA or not since I have to spend at least Rs500 whenever I visited the hospital. I am very worried about my future.”

Video titles:

The main diseases caused among the Burmese refugees in New Delhi are hepatitis, jaundice, cholera and HIV/AIDS.

This is a funeral ceremony of Mr XXX, who died of AIDS. The funeral ceremony of all the Burmese refugees take place at Burma Community Resource Centre which works for social welfare and networking founded in 1998 by Burmese community in Delhi.

Interview with a family member whose father has been suffering from cancer:

“It is suspected to be dengue. The doctor advised me to do ultra-sound and blood-test by any means. The Doctor even asked to borrow money from someone. I could not borrow money and stayed like that for 3 months. What I came to know was that UNHCR will repay the money as it is very expensive. The SA we are receiving is not enough for buying medicines and moving here and there. Accordingly, doctor could not advise me what to do and the government of India also could not provide those medicines. We need to spend Rs 3000 to 4000 every week just for buying medicines. I wish and request any organizations and people of goodwill to help us.“

“Please use your liberty to promote ours.”

Aung San Suu Kyi

author: Jackie Fox

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Report on the food distribution in February and March 2011

On 23 September 2010, the Burma Center Prague transfered donations of 100,078.00 Czech crowns to Indian Rupees and handed the money over to the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO). CHRO decided to facilitate the distribution this time in a more remote area, in the Kanpetlet township, Chin State. In this area, there are still many rats devastating the fields, but in 2011 there is nothing left to destroy. Presently, there are no seeds are available for planting new crops. Therefore, the people are desperate and don’t have much hope for better times.

Similar problems are affecting the health situation. Many people are suffering from malaria and other climate-related diseases. Sick people cannot go to the hospital, nor can they afford the medicine to cure their illness when they don’t even have enough to eat. And, since securing food remains the main priority, the villagers have no means to pay tuition fees for their children.

On 4 February 2011, the funds were received in the Kanpetlet township by the local organization Rat Famine Emergency Relief Committee (RFERC). RFERC coordinated and monitored the distribution of rice. Burma Center Prague has the names of the persons who carried out the distribution, but these names are being kept confidential to avoid conflicts with Burmese authorities.


Preparation for Food Aid Distribution

After the relief fund was received, RFERC had a meeting and decided which villages were in greatest need of aid and how the food should be distributed. The committee decided and agreed that relief food assistance should be distributed to seven villages where the rat infestation has been most severe. After the committee confirmed the time, the committee informed and consulted with local religious leaders and heads of the villages that were chosen to receive aid about the villages’ populations and the number of households and families, and identified distribution places. Families were required to carry the donated food back to their residences.

Since the affected areas are situated deep inside the country, the committee decided it would be best to buy the rice inside Burma and transport it by car. Security issues had to be taken into account to the timing and logistics of the distribution, as these activities had to be pursued unofficially.


People’s reactions

All the villagers from the villages that received relief food assistance are very grateful and happy, and say a word of thanks from the depths of their hearts, and ask many blessings for the food aid providers. RFERC is also very satisfied with the implementation of the distribution and had very rewarding experiences when handing out the rice and would like to express its sincerest thanks to all the donors from the far away countries and to the organizations who coordinated the fundraising.

  • Total rice bags distributed: 195 bags, (9,750 kg)
  • Number of villages: 7 villages
  • Number of household: 246 households
  • Population who received aid: 1390 persons
  • Period of distribution: 2 months


“Thank you very much and may God bless you richly.”

Head of RFERC

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More attention needs to focus on Chin State

Today, a report entitled “Life Under the Junta: Evidence of Crimes Against Humanity in Burma’s Chin State” was released by the organization Physicians for Human Rights. This report is extremely important for Burma, for the Chin people, and for our work.

For Burma

“Despite the November 2010 electoral exercise, the military still controls all branches of government in Burma. PHR calls for an official Commission of Inquiry on Burma, whose mandate should be to investigate violations of human rights and humanitarian law and to identify perpetrators of such abuses.”

While the world public appears to be paralised by the happy news about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s release, the nations of ASEAN predictably started to call for an end of sanctions against Burma, asserting that the elections have been “conducive and transparent”, as the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Marty Natalegawa, puts it motivated by certainly anything else but the promotion of truth and human well-being.

It is perfect timing when these cynical strategists and businessmen have to find answers now to the hard facts that this report has produced. Global leaders cannot be reminded often enough about the relevance and universal validity of human rights and the interests of the powerless.

For the Chin people

“While the horrors of military rule in Eastern Burma have been better known and documented, we know much less about Burma’s Western regions, including Chin State, on Burma’s border with the Indian State of Mizoram.”

It is a tragic momentum in the suffering of Burma’s people that the lack of resources – and I am also talking about public attention – has led to a situation where crises seem to compete, like those in West and in East Burma. Historical disagreements between ethnic groups contribute to this unfortunate constellation. Our organization, the Burma Center Prague, has already two years ago drawn the conclusion to engage for West Burma, because systematic support has so far mainly streamed through Thailand. The proximity of West Burma to India gives a deceptive impression that friends are near. Although India is the world’s largest democracy, this fact, however, doesn’t seem to prevent it’s government’s from supporting the Burmese regime for its own economic and strategic interests.

It is crucial to emphasize that the west of Burma needs to be included in our considerations. It should, however, not replace the eastern regions. The cause for both crises, as distant as they may be, is largely the same and has its roots in Naypyidaw.

For the Chin people it will be very helpful that an organization operated by others than their countrymen confirms their own findings. The results are as clear as they could be:

“Nearly 92 percent of the households interviewed reported at least one episode of forced labor, such as portering of military supplies or building roads.”

Human Rights Violations in Chin State. Source: Physicians for Human Rights

Human Rights Violations in Chin State. Source: Physicians for Human Rights

The author Physicians for Human Rights even suggests that the atrocities committed amount to Crimes Against Humanity.

For our work

It has happened today, in the morning: The counter on www.dmsbambus.cz made a leap to the 100% mark.

That means: Thanks to our supporters, we hit the second goal of our famine relief campaign – incredible 300,000 CZK. We obviously decided to raise our goal to half a million – money that is desperately needed to buy food and medicine for Burmese suffering from famine in Chin State.

The report of Physicians for Human Rights confirmed our conviction that our help really goes there where it is needed. If you decide to make major changes in your life to dedicate your energy to charitable goals, there is nothing better than knowing that your efforts make perfect sense.

But it is still a long way to go. Thank you for joining us!

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