Burma was once known as the rice bowl of Asia as it was so prosperous and productive. After prolonged years of neglect under a military junta Burma has become impoverished. Less than 1% of government spending in Burma goes towards health, whilst around 35% of children in Burma are malnourished and 1 in 5 die before their fifth birthday. Burma spends about the same amount on education and UNICEF reports that less than 50% of children in Burma complete more than year 4 at school.
During this period, under the military junta, more than 150,000 Karen people have fled Burma to refugee camps in Thailand. At least another 500,000 Karen men, women and children have been internally displaced. Internal conflict has resulted in indiscriminate burning of villages, destruction of crops and killing of civilians.
Since 2010 a cease fire between the Burmese government and many of the ethnic groups in Burma, including the Karen, has currently halted military conflict in the Karen state. This has resulted in more freedom of movement and has meant that people in the Karen state can begin to see a hope for the future. It has also given The Hope Project greater opportunities to work together with the local people to begin rebuilding their lives and communities. We’re praying this cease fire will translate into lasting peace in Burma.