Thursday, January 30, 2014

Displaced and Persecuted People Seek Assistance from Freight and Logistics Interests

Your Chance to Support Relief Run Showing the Light Side of a Serious Situation
Shipping News Feature

MYANMAR – THAILAND – For most of us the process of logistics is a civilised affair, moving cargo around the world using every modern tool and technology available. For those toiling in the jungles of Myanmar getting vital medical assistance to persecuted and displaced communities however the situation is drastically different. Meanwhile many global freight interests are eyeing the virgin commercial territory with avarice, funding infrastructure development, but often proceeding without thought for environmental or social considerations in a country deeply riven by the most complex ethnic considerations.

The Chinese have been investing heavily in the country whilst just this week the Japanese agreed to loan a further $600 million for various projects including upgrading facilities at Thilawa Deepwater Port and its Special Economic Zone and infrastructure improvements to the Yangon-Mandalay rail route. This brings recent investment by Japan to around a billion dollars, yet the country only rates as Myanmar’s tenth largest international investor.

These latest advances however obscure a serious situation which exists throughout much of a state which has only slowly opened to outsiders. Rated at 180th in the list of the 183 most corrupt countries in the world, and one of which Samantha Power, Barack Obama's Special Assistant to the President on Human Rights, said in 2012:

"Serious human rights abuses against civilians in several regions continue, including against women and children."

The Free Burma Rangers has worked in the country since 1997 to train and supply medical units, with 48 full time teams currently active in the Karen, Karenni, Shan, Pa'O, Arakan, Kachin, Chin and Lahu areas of Burma where the NGO has now helped over three quarters of a million people.

The Handy Shipping Guide is proud to be sponsoring the 2014 Chiang Mai Run for Relief, now celebrating its 10th anniversary. The 5 kilometre race will be taking place at the northern Thai city's Huay Tung Tao reservoir on the 15th of February, 2014 and will raise funds for the Free Burma Rangers relief work. A spokesman for the group said:

"Though there is some improvement in the situation in Burma, there is still a great deal of fighting in parts of the country, as well as human rights abuses and arbitrary killing of civilians. In addition, there are still thousands of internally displaced people who are unable to return to their homes due to fear of the Burmese army.

"For thousands of villagers throughout Burma, running is part of everyday life. Forced from their homes, they flee with the fear of being attacked by the Burmese Army or maimed by landmines. By taking part in the Run for Relief, participants are helping bring crucial medical and relief assistance to those who desperately need it."

The Rangers welcome any support and donations can be made here whilst anyone wishing to take part in the race, which will include ‘flip flop’ and ‘rucksack’ divisions, can register on the day from 7am. It will cost 200 baht to run and memento t-shirts will also be on sale, as well as food and drink for non-participants.

Photo: Children from four villages at an earlier ‘Run for Relief’ at the site where the Burmese Army burned down the Church at Tha Da Der.