Quotes by Dr. Zarni: For those remotely familiar with the UNHCR, this UN agency is an utter failure at worst and an ineffectual at best in fulfilling its mandate to protect refugees around the world. This despite some of the good and dedicated staff in the organization.
The way the UNHCR has been treating the refugees and their community advocates has reportedly been appalling – I’d say CRIMINAL.
Spread the word. Don’t let these pathetic organizations – Lords of Refugees – get away with their disgusting neo-Colonialist behavior and practices, if not policies.
We must remember that the United Nations IS beholden to corporate forces that wish to turn war zones into exploitable land, labor and other resources.
Quotes by KT Julian:
This is from Tim, a filmmaker here who recently shot a short documentary about refugees’ fears of the repatriation process. This is actually something that the international Burma activist community might be able to do something about, as I assume the UNHCR has a little interest in pubic pressure. Can you send this to anyone who might have useful contacts?
Tim presents: Nothing About Us Without Us:
A background to the film:
The basic is very simple – at a meeting between CBOs and UNHCR in August UNHCR pulled out a map of 13 relocation sites in Burma that had already been determined. Building had begun on the sites and one – Chookale – is nearly ready for being populated. UNHCRs exact involvement in these sites is unknown – they claim that they knew nothing about them until the Burmese Govt pulled out a map and said ‘this is what we are doing’. This may or may not be the case – we have people who are not prepared to go on record, even anonymously, who claim the UN has actually visited the sites. Hard to confirm. Either way, the development of the sites surprised CBOs and brought to a head their already significant concerns that the UNHCR were not being fully upfront in supplying information about repatriation. They also had significant concerns about what they perceived as the lack of a consultation process in which they were involved. This concern was reflected in Thomas Quintana’s (Human Rights Rapporteur to Burma) report to the UN General Assembly.
In addition, CBOs are well aware of the failings of the UNHCR in their inability to protect refugees in the temporary camps at Tassonyang following the break up of 7th brigade and also their ineffectuality after the post election / Myawaddy conflict. In a nutshell, I think it is fair to say that UNHCR is perceived by both INGOs and CBOs to have been pretty ineffectual in their ability to fulfill their mandate to protect refugees.
Anyway, as a consequence of all of the above but with the specific catalyst of the map as a particular instance which seemed to exemplify a number of CBO concerns, Burma Partnership in association with the CBOs commissioned me to make an advocacy film to draw attention to these issues. The goals are to increase UNHCR transparency and to improve both the information sharing and consultation processes of the UN. The means to achieve this is to have those who hold sway over the UNHCR (if anyone does!) – funders, govt representatives, INGOs working in Thailand, and the UN itself – be aware of the issues of concern. Hence the film.
As said in the email, UNHCR has taken a stance which is based, sadly, not on conciliation or acceptance that CBOs – whether rightly or wrongly – do not feel part of the process but instead are aggressively discrediting the film. This is not going to go down well with CBOs. I have already witnessed, first hand, the ability of the UN coordinator, Iain Hall, to shout over the top of a CBO representative. Really really poor form (this was at an ‘emergencty’ meeting instigated by UNHCR with myself, Burma Partnership and CBOs present.
And that’s a bit of the background. I hope it helps.
Peace and love