Refugees


When Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha announced on July 11 that the Thai refugee camps on the Thai-Myanmar border would be emptied, many wondered if there really is new resolve by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to repatriate the 130,000 Myanmar refugees who have been living in Thailand for many years.
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Shan, a 53-year-old farmer, wears a blue-and-white button-down shirt over her patterned longyi, a traditional Burmese wrap. She sits quietly with her family, next to the few belongings they were able to carry when they were forced from their home in April.
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Thai junta leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha has given an assurance that human rights principles will be upheld when the time comes to repatriate tens of thousands of Myanmar from refugee camps, the Bangkok Post reported on July 27.
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Thousands of Burmese at the Ei Htu Hta refugee camp in eastern Burma are struggling to feed themselves as monthly food supplies from non-governmental organizations have been interrupted by Thai authorities, according to an aid worker.
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Thai soldiers launched a headcount of refugees here, as authorities restricted movement in and out of this sprawling camp near the Burmese border, raising fears among refugees that they would soon be forcefully repatriated to Myanmar.
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Thailand’s 3rd Army commander will discuss preparations to repatriate refugees from nine camps along the Thai border during a summit on 1 to 3 August with Burmese officials.
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Armed groups in Kayin State will cooperate in the resettlement of refugees from camps in Thailand when they return home, a Border Guard Force officer told Mizzima on July 15.
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As many as 5,000 people who have fled fighting in northern Shan State are in desperate need of aid, according to the Taaung Women’s Organisation.
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General Prayuth said Myanmar and Thailand would ensure a smooth return for refugees [Reuters]
A human rights group has said it is concerned for the safety of 130,000 refugees from Myanmar, following a crackdown by the military government that led to hundreds of thousands of Camodians fleeing the country.
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Burmese refugees have criticized the Thai junta’s plan to send them home within the next year, saying they have been left in the dark about the repatriation process and are not yet ready to return.
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Thailand’s military government is to deport 100,000 refugees who have been living in camps along the border with Burma (Myanmar) for more than two decades, a move rights groups say would create chaos at a tense time for both countries.
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The rain is coming down hard, flooding some of the temporary canvas shelters provided by the UNHCR. Families are moving their bedding into the church’s community hall where they will sleep for the night. Despite the obvious discomforts the hundreds of ethnic Kachin recently displaced by fighting in northern Shan State can still count their blessings. At the Kachin Baptist Church (KBC) in Muse; a trade city in north-eastern Myanmar on the border with China, they are safe, especially Zau Gun. He was captured by the Tatmadaw (Myanmar armed forces) and forced to carry heavy mortar rounds as they fought against some of his own people: an alliance of Kachin, Ta’ang and Shan armed groups. With the rain bearing down on the tin roof of one of the church’s offices, Zau Gun tells his sad story.
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Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has defended the need for the NCPO to stay on after an interim government is formed, and has disclosed plans to send back refugees from Myanmar.
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Thailand’s authorities have banned Burmese refugees living on the Thai-Burmese border from leaving their camps, while they conduct a census to determine the exact number of refugees living in the country. There are nine refugee camps along the border and aid agencies say they provide relief to no less than 120,000 people.
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According to its publishers, “Governing Refugees: Justice, Order and Legal Pluralism” is a book that “will appeal to anyone with relevant interests in law, anthropology, and criminology, as well as those working in the area of Refugee Studies.”
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IDMC estimates that there are up to 642,600 internally displaced people (IDPs) in Myanmar, forced to flee their homes by armed conflict and inter-communal violence. The figure includes up to 400,000 people living in protracted displacement as a result of conflict in the south-east of the country – in southern Shan, Kayah, Kayin and Mon states and Bago and Tanintharyi regions – and 98,000 displaced by conflict in Kachin and northern Shan states since 2011. It also includes around 140,000 people displaced by inter-communal violence in Rakhine state since 2012, and more than 5,000 who fled their homes in Mandalay region in 2013. Disasters brought on by natural hazards and forced evictions linked to land grabs and the exploitation of natural resources have caused further displacement, including in areas where people have already fled conflict and violence.
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Refugees sheltering in displacement camps in Kachin and northern Shan states have all but given up hope of going home any time soon.
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Anti-human trafficking police have arrested a Burmese man for forcing children from Burma to sell flowers to tourists on Khao San Road in Bangkok.
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Northern Thailand has long been home to thousands of Burmese refugees who have fled ethnic fighting and their country’s military government for temporary camps. After Burma’s political opening, more of these refugees are returning home, but many, such as ethnic Karen groups, say it’s still not safe.
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A host of international based Burma human rights advocacy organisations have voiced grave concern that refugees on the Thai-Burma border are being forced to return to Burma prematurely because of deep cuts in international aid.
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