The Emergency Assistance and Relief Team (EART) is the emergency response unit of the Forum for Community-based Organisations of Burma (FCOB), a collective of Burmese civil society organizations operating along the Thai-Burma border. It aims to assist Burmese people who are in need due to natural disasters or conflict through the provision of food, water, shelter, clothing, health services and rehabilitation.
EART has evolved over time in response to the emergency crises faced both inside Burma and across the border in Thailand. In the past, our community responses to crisis situations have arisen under immediate circumstances and efforts were coordinated to meet the demands of each situation. Now, having learnt from these lessons and experienced that vital time was lost through having to form response committees and delegate responsibilities; EART has established a solid organizational structure in preparation for future emergencies.
After Cyclone Nargis hit the Irrawaddy Delta in July 2008, the Emergency Assistance Team – Burma (EAT-Burma) was formed. EAT-Burma collaborated with networks of local organisations and concerned individuals in Burma to ensure that essential food, water, shelter, clothing, health services and rehabilitation could reach those most in need. By working directly with the affected communities, they were successful in providing vital assistance to those who were not receiving sufficient aid from other sources.
In November 2010, the day after Burma held its elections, outbreaks of armed conflict forced 15,000 people across the border into areas of neighbouring Tak Province, Thailand. Burmese community leaders living in Mae Sot joined forces to assist the displaced people. The Emergency Relief Team (ERT) was founded by the FCOB to provide shelter, rice and other food rations, and medical kits to these displaced people, and boarding houses for unprotected, vulnerable children.
To ensure that the Burmese community in Mae Sot is as prepared as possible to reactivate in case of future emergencies, these response organizations, EAT-Burma and ERT, were solidified in June 2011 into one organizational unit, the EART. The humanitarian services of EART are operated in partnership with Suwannimit Foundation (a registered charity in Thailand); enabling it to progress towards meeting it’s social welfare objectives.
The EART works at the grassroots level to provide aid and assistance to the people affected by natural and made-made disasters. In this respect, it works closely with networks of local organizations and concerned individuals in Burma to get food, water, shelter, clothing, health services and rehabilitation to those most in need. This is provided by working directly with the affected communities who are not receiving aid or not receiving sufficient aid from the Burma Government or INGOs.
The organizations who formed EART have years of experience working to provide health and education services, training in human rights, health, education, women’s rights, leadership skills and responding to emergencies. All of the EART organizations usually work in the very adverse conditions in the ethnic border areas of Burma. Because of the long-standing restrictions and neglect of the Burma Government, these organizations have been providing humanitarian assistance in these areas without the support or approval of the Burma Government for over twenty-five years. EART teams use strategies developed over the years to extend its work into disaster-affected communities.
- Provide immediate aid and assistance to people affected by natural disasters and conflict
- Promote and participate in the rehabilitation process of community rebuilding
- Collect information, conduct needs assessments and document human rights violations in the affected areas
- Strengthen community networks by using community-driven responses, implemented by aid workers and leaders from the affected communities.
EART Humanitarian Assistance Principles:
- Humanitarian assistance must respect human rights.
- Humanitarian assistance should be non-discriminatory in relation to race, ethnicity, gender or religion.
- Every step of a program’s activities must be conducted in partnership with the community.
- Humanitarian assistance strategies must be sustainable in relation to community resources.
- Systems of accountability must be established at the beginning of any partnership for providing humanitarian assistance.
- Humanitarian assistance must avoid creating conflicts among the community.
- Humanitarian assistance should do no harm to the community.
- All humanitarian assistance should strengthen democratic processes.
- Gender mainstreaming must be considered in any humanitarian assistance.
- Relief Efforts
- Dry food distribution
- Temporary shelter
- Sanitation and health provisions
- Livelihoods: agricultural equipment, livestock, fishing equipment, gardening
- Unaccompanied children and access to education
- Health Teams
- Small Grants for Burma-based Communities and CBOs for Rehabilitation
- Monitoring and Evaluation of EART Activities
- Impact Assessment Survey
- Coordination with Local Teams and International Relief Operations in Burma, including Education and Training