News / Asia

Amid Burma Reforms, Steps to Resettle Those Displaced by Conflict

People eat food distributed at a Buddhist monastery used as a collective shelter for those displaced by recent violence in Sittwe, June 17, 2012.
People eat food distributed at a Buddhist monastery used as a collective shelter for those displaced by recent violence in Sittwe, June 17, 2012.
Ron Corben
BANGKOK, Thailand - Burma is developing plans, backed by the United Nations, to resettle hundreds of thousands of refugees, many of them internally displaced or living in camps in Thailand.

While Thai officials are welcoming the action, U.N. agencies and rights groups say Thailand itself must address issues of greater protection to refugees and trafficked persons.

There are more than 450,000 internally displaced people inside Burma, also known as Myanmar. They are mostly in the eastern states where ethnic Karen and Shan communities have fought long standing conflicts with the central government.

The UNHCR is opening regional offices in Burma and talking with refugee groups to prepare for resettlement.

Kitty McKinsey, a UNHCR spokesperson, says the priority in resettlement is with the internally displaced.

“It’s the strategy of the ethnic groups themselves and the government, but mainly the ethnic groups themselves that they want the people who are displaced within Myanmar to go home first," she said. "That seems an issue of fairness and it seems a good strategy that they would go home first and make sure they can settle in then the refugees would come home. So that is going on.”

But McKinsey says challenges to the resettlement process include demining villages that have been in conflict zones and providing jobs to the returnees.

There are also some 140,000 ethnic Burmese in Thailand who have been living in refugee camps - some for as long as three decades.

The political reforms in Burma over the past year have lifted the hopes of many in the refugee camps of returning home.

Chairperson of the Thai Committee for Refugees Foundation (TCR) Thongtong Chantarangsu, says the initial steps of programs inside Burma to assist the internally displaced are underway.

Thongtong says most refugees from the camps will return home in the coming years.

“I wish I could say that in the next 10 years we’ll see a drastic change in Myanmar and the numbers of refugees, 100, 000 of them, who have been here for over 10 years, can be back to their homeland,” said Thongtong.

The renewed effort to resettle Burmese refugees living in Thailand comes as Thai authorities are under scrutiny for their refugee policies.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch, says the country’s overall refugee protection measures have shown little improvement over the years.

“There is no refugee law. Refugees, recognized by the UNHCR as refugees are still treated by the Thai Immigration Department as undocumented migrants; are still arrested and slammed into the IDC [Immigration Detention Center] in indefinite detention," said Robertson. "There’s a promise to change laws - it’s all process - we haven’t seen any concrete changes.”

The U.S. Government and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons have both released reports critical of Thailand’s policies towards the trafficking of people and the rights of migrants.

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, Joy Ngazi Ezeilo, in a report on Thailand presented Friday in Geneva, pointed to several shortcomings in Thai law enforcement and inadequate support for those persons trafficked. She was also critical of restrictive immigration policies and abuse of human rights of migrants.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid