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Burma: Overseas Aid

Volume 473: debated on Thursday 13 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effect on the delivery of UK restrictions imposed by the Burmese military regime on international aid agencies working inside Burma. (193403)

All aid agencies working in Burma have to operate within a context of restrictions on travel by international staff and difficulties for international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in obtaining memoranda of understanding (MOUs) from the Burmese regime.

In recent weeks the regime has emphasised the importance it attaches to international NGOs in Burma operating strictly within the terms of their MOUs. In January, the Ministry of Health held a meeting to remind NGOs of their existing guidelines. Since then, most NGOs have been able to continue their work effectively. More recently however a number of NGOs have been asked to curtail particular aspects of their operations in some parts of the country. These additional restrictions appear to be related to the regime’s sensitivities over external contacts with Burmese civil society in advance of the constitutional referendum planned for May.

The Department for International Development, along with other donors in Burma, are keeping the situation closely under review.