Things are not going well for the 60,000 refugees in Mae-la Refugee camp. The military is tightening security so that outsiders have very little access to the camp, rice rations are being reduced, and services are being lost.
One of the key areas affected is the camp preschools. The reality is that without outside support the camp preschools are beginning to close there are now only half the number of children in the camp have access to preschool education. The refugee rumour mill is being fed with terrible stories of what might be happening next and many of the refugees are despondent and lacking any sense of hope.
Many just want to back to their land in Karen State, but their lands have been confiscated and leased to foreign companies who are pillaging the forests and mining the wealth of their land. Some who have tried to return to their ancestral lands have been arrested for trespassing and dragged through the courts by the foreign tenants of the land.
This situation brings despair to the refugees in Mae-la and now third nations such as Australia are beginning to close their doors to allowing Karen refugees to come to a safe place under their humanitarian visa arrangements. Suicide rates in Mae-la camp are increasing.
It is into this context that Christmas in the camp is run every year. The fun and excitement provide a morale boost to refugee families. The nutritious food provides some staying of the insidious rise of malnutrition and the Christmas spirit in the preschools brings joy to the hearts of children who are living with other family members who are under incredible stress.
This year Christmas in the Camp reached 1045 preschool children. Each child received a small present, a nutritious Christmas meal and there were joy and celebration in each of the remaining camp preschools.
Australian Mercy would like to thank our donors who make this possible every year. It is a very worthwhile event.
Australian Mercy continues to run support as many camp preschools as we have money to support. We also provide nutritional supplements to families who are struggling to get enough to eat. This is done through the camp preschools.
You can continue to support our work in Mae-la camp by making your donation here. Thank you for caring.