The European Union (EU) is to provide financial assistance to support a four-year project to develop peace building and reconstruct minor development programmes in conflict affected areas of Shan State starting this month.
There are five partner organisations backing the project. These are the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Ethnic Peace Resources Project (EPRP), the AIDS Support Group, Save the Children and a Shan State based CBO, according to Nai Aow Kou Rot, an EPRP project coordinator.
He said: “The main thing is to be able to help the peace process, to have meetings and negotiations that support the peace process and to implement small infrastructure projects needed by the communities.”
He also said that the EPRP and the ILO would be jointly opening an office in Taunggyi Township to better implement the project and keep them in touch with the local Shan people.
Ko Mine Khun, the spokesperson of the Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) said that though they welcomed the project they were concerned that the organisations might face constraints in implementing it.
He said: “We welcome these groups’ plans. Though they may produce changes in urban areas some human rights abuses may continue to occur in remote areas and on the outskirts [of towns]. They will face difficulties in implementing their projects in areas affected by war.
Actions proposed by the project include the implementation of minor development projects by the ILO, such as building roads, bridges, hospitals and Schools. The ILO will also monitor child soldiers and forced labour and Save the Children will run a rehabilitation programme for children.
Ko Sai Maung, a resident of Mongkung Township said that because of the fighting in Shan State between the Burma Army and ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) such as the Myanmar National Democratic Army (MNDAA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) new soldiers are being recruited in the area.
Shan human rights groups said that if international organisations base themselves in the area and monitor the forced recruitment of child soldiers the practice will slowly be reduced until it actually stops.
The EU wants to support projects that promote the peace process in Kachin, Kayah and Shan states. The five partner organistions on this particular project decided that they wanted to implement their project in Shan State.
Since the EU lifted sanctions against Burma after Thein Sein came to power there has been an increase in the number of international donor organisations working in Burma that support and develop national reconciliation and economic development.
Translated by Aung Myat Soe English version written by Mark Inkey for BNI.