The Burmese government’s Peace Making Work Committee leader Aung Min met with Mae Tao clinic’s founder Dr Cynthia Maung during his visit to Mae Sot this week.
Dr Cynthia Maung told DVB the meeting took place at Wattana Resort in Mae Sot on 26 June where she and the minister discussed issues related to health, education and social welfare that are affecting Burmese migrants on the border.
“We explained to [the minister] about health, education and the social relief work in the border region and mainly stressed the need for cooperation between Thai and Burmese health sectors,” said Dr Cynthia Maung, who has been providing free health care to migrants and refugees on the Thai-Burmese border for more than 20 years.
“Better cooperation between the governments on the border means there’ll be a lesser burden for civil society groups.”
This was the first ever meeting between Dr Cynthia Maung and a senior ranking Burmese government official.
The railway minister’s trip to Mae Tao comes as the organisation struggles to finance its operations after losing funding this year from western donors that have begun to shift funds into Burma.
Minister Aung Min, earlier in the day toured the clinic and donated 150,00 THB to the organisation, which earlier the month published an urgent plea online citing an 18 million THB windfall in the year’s budget.
Mae Tao announced that without additional funds the clinic might be unable to provide dry food rations to 3,000 children living on the border.
Aung Min, along with Immigration Minister Khin Yi, Hla Maung Shwe of Myanmar Egress and Nyo Ohn Myint of the National League for Democracy-Liberation Area, visited various wards and handed out cash donations to individual patients during their tour of the facility.
In one photo-op that went awry, Immigration Minister Khin Yi handed a young patient a small gift and held out his hand only to be shunned by the timid teenager.
The railway minister observed in the background and joked: “’Maybe they worry you might take them back to Burma.”
After leaving the clinic, Aung Min and his entourage finished off the trip in Mae Sot by meeting with representatives from the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front, the Forum for Democracy in Burma, the Karen National Union.