The Burmese Constitution's failure to address “ethnic aspirations” could mean that conflict in the border areas would continue for “many more years to come,” according to the Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC).
In its latest report, the humanitarian agency—which oversees aid for nine refugee camps along the Thai-Burmese border—said the conflict had become a “peripheral issue” because of the international attention now commanded by the 2010 election.
“Whilst everyone hopes that the general election will indeed lead to meaningful change, the new constitution does not address ethnic aspirations and conflict could go on for many more years to come,” the report said.
“There was a danger that ethnic conflict in the border areas, remote from Rangoon, might increasingly become the 'side-show.'” the report added.
It warned that a “major emergency” was possible if the Burmese regime decided to “push for an early military solution.”
The TBBC report said last year had been a difficult one for the organization, which works with a tight budget to care for hundreds of thousands of Burmese refugees and internally displaced people. This year's operating budget amounts to 1,230 million baht (US $37 million).
According to relief groups in Burma's Karen State, recent military action by government troops and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army in Taungoo and Papun District had caused more than 2,000 Karen villages to flee and hide in the jungle.
The government troops are from Light Infantry Battalions 421, 427, 434, 702 and 704, 434. They were accused by the Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People of attacking villages with mortars and killing civilians.