• Sabine Holzknecht

Who thinks of the poorest?

A letter from... Sabine Holzknecht. The author of private wealth has been honorary chairwoman of the organization "Help without Frontiers" for four years. She appeals to our solidarity.

Almost 20 years ago Help Without Frontiers started its work in the Thai-Burmese border area. Since then we have been supporting people who have been traumatised by decades of military dictatorship, who have lost everything, whose land had been reduced to rubble and who fled to neighbouring Thailand.

We have long been committed to the protection of life - a goal that has justified a lockdown almost worldwide in recent weeks. Did you know that 15,000 children under the age of five die every day for reasons that could be avoided? That is almost 5.5 million children a year, or ten children a minute. This death is not counted, it is simply accepted.

In recent years, we have tried to give people a measure of confidence. We have built schools so that children can escape the spiral of poverty. And we have trained young people.

But our work of the last almost 20 years has been almost ruined within a few weeks. In Thailand and its neighbouring countries, no government aid measures are taking effect - and certainly not for Burmese migrants, who are only tolerated in the country and exploited as cheap labour. They live their lives as illegals, as stateless persons, as people without rights.

Their biggest problem is not the virus. Sie simply threaten to starve to death. The next humanitarian disaster - the next famine - is now imminent. What we are currently experiencing in the Burmese-Thai border region is being repeated all over the world. Once again, the poorest and most defenceless people in the world are suffering the most. And once again streams of refugees will set out on their way. The World Bank's Director of Health, Muhammad Ali Pate, fears that the current crisis will undo decades of progress in poorer countries.

For all aid projects that are involved in these countries, it is incredibly difficult to react to the current crisis. Those who - like "Help without Frontiers" - also receive public support must plan with a very long time horizon. As a rule, we are obliged to submit projects six to nine months in advance. If the money is then approved, they must be implemented exactly as planned.

The lack of flexibility is a major problem for us. It means zum Beispiel for us that we would receive money for projects that we could no longer realize. Our training courses for young people, our information campaigns on child trafficking, prostitution and drug consumption in the villages of Myanmar or our music project, in which young people of different ethnic origins and religions make music together and thus develop a sense of community, cannot be carried out in times of curfew and Covid-19. For what, on the other hand, would be necessary now - quick and uncomplicated emergency aid - we are not allowed to use this money, nor do we receive any additional support.

The International Monetary Fund has analyzed that the net new debt worldwide will probably increase by about 14 trillion dollars this year. With this money, governments in the industrialised countries in particular are trying to mitigate the economic consequences of the pandemic for their citizens. Nobody thinks about the poorest people in the world.

"Help Without Frontiers wants to save these people from starvation. Therefore, with the support of private donors, we have put together small aid packages consisting of 15 kilos of rice, one litre of oil, one kilo of beans, 500 grams of dried fish, 500 grams of chilli, drinking water, ten mouth and nose masks and two soaps. Each of them costs 18.40 euros and, week after week, relieves the worst suffering of those who need it most. Please help us to do so. Your donation will go down well. ®

Help without Frontiers" works absolutely transparently, offers all donors a 100 percent donation guarantee and has the donation seal "Safe Donations". German donors can help tax-free through the "Maecenata Foundation". You can find further information at: www.helfenohnegrenzen.org

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