Christian Aid has warned that the environmental damage caused by the Burmese government’s development projects could lead to the further displacement of rural communities.
In its latest report, “Human tide: The real migration crisis”, the humanitarian charity warned that Burma’s state-sponsored development projects would add to the number of displaced people in the world, expected to number at least one billion by the year 2050.
Urgent action was needed, the report said.
Massive displacement is also expected to result from the government’s planned constructions of dams and other large-scale development projects, including palm oil plantations, according to the report.
“These are just extreme examples of the ‘development displacement’ that experts say accounts for up to 105 million displaced people at any given time,” the report said.
Burma is already building several dams on the Salween River in eastern Burma, despite the objections of conservation groups, who say the projects will cause environmental devastation.
In late April, the Karen Human Rights Group claimed that the military regime in Burma had used development programmes as part of a strategy to expand its military control and to further abuse villagers in Karen State.
The Christian Aid report said international moves to cut CO2 gas emissions through the substitution of bio fuels for oil would bring hardship to Burmese villagers because government plans to cultivate plants like castor and jatropha, would involve land confiscation and rural development.
“The problem is that this potential bonanza for biofuel producers will require vast tracts of land for plantations, leading to the forced ejection of yet more peasant farmers,” said the report.