Myanmar refugees lodge complaint against German NGO

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Bangkok (dpa) - Myanmar (Burmese) refugees in a Thai-Myanmar border camp have lodged a complaint against the Berlin-based Malteser Hilfsdienst (MHD) for providing them with inadequate medical services, aid officials confirmed on Monday.

"They did lodge a complaint with us and provincial authorities so what we will try to do is go in and form a committee to listen to both sides,'' said a spokesman for the Bangkok office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Residents of Ban Mae La Luang camp in Mae Hong Son province, 650 kilometres north of Bangkok, have accused MHD, a German aid organization funded by the European Union, of providing the camp with poor quality medicine, refusing to listen to the needs of residents and failing to improve sanitary conditions in the camp.

The camp, the temporary home to about 10,000 "displaced people'' from neighbouring Myanmar, is run by a consortium of non-governmental organizations. MHD is responsible for medicine and sanitation in the camp.

The refugees' chief complaint appears to be over MHD's reluctance to provide camp residents with antibiotics, a widely overused medication in many parts of Asia.

"In this part of the world, and in Thailand, people are so used to taking a lot of medications, especially antibiotics, and the MHD has been trying to put controls on the use of these medications, " said the UNHCR spokesman, who asked to remain anonymous. dpa pj pw

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