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Minorities must not be left out of Burma relief efforts

8 May 2008

As a massive international relief effort gets underway to help hundreds of thousands of Burmese affected by the recent cyclone, Minority Rights Group international calls on the UN and international aid agencies to make sure that ethnic minorities are not left out of the process. There is limited information on the ethnic breakdown of the population in the affected Irrawaddy region but ethnic Karen and Mon communities are known to live in these areas. Previous research by MRG shows that when a natural disaster occurs minority communities are often worst affected and last to have access to aid. They also face discrimination in the aid distribution process. According to Burmese government figures 22,000 people have been killed and 41,000 are reported missing after the cyclone. More than a million are believed to be homeless.

For more details on ethnic communities in Burma see the country entry in the World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples. See also MRG's climate change briefing paper.