News / Asia

Karen Refugees in Thailand Still Waiting to Return to Burma

Karen Refugees in Thailand Still Waiting to Return to Burmai
X
June 10, 2014 10:16 AM
Northern Thailand has long been home to thousands of Burmese refugees who fled ethnic fighting and the 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. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
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.
 
Along the Thai-Burma border, 120,000 refugees remain in nine camps, including at Mae Sot, the largest settlement, established 30 years ago.
 
Most of the inhabitants are from neighboring Karen state. They have fled the fighting and human rights abuse of a conflict lasting more than six decades.
 
For many, like 19-year-old Saw Lae Mae, who’s spent his entire life on the Thai side of the border, making ends meet by working illegally outside the camp is risky business.
 
“In the past we had enough rice rations but now there is a decrease in the rations. I’m afraid to get caught by police if we go to work outside the camp. They can fine us 1,000 - 2,000 baht,” said Mae. The fine of 1,000-2,000 baht is about US$30-60.
 
As Burma, which is also known as Myanmar, has opened, making it more attractive for some refugees to return, international donors have responded by reducing funding for refugee aid groups like The Border Consortium. The shortfall has led to cutbacks on basics like rice.
 
Border Consortium executive director Sally Thompson said the cuts could not have come at a worse time.
 
“If we see services being reduced further there is a risk that the structures in the camps will deteriorate and collapse, and really just at the time when you need people as communities to come together to give them the space to be able to prepare for that future,” said Thompson.
 
Despite the hardships on the border, the long-term camp residents still maintain a sense of stability and security.
 
That sense does not yet exist in their home territory, where 63 years of war has left the region in shambles.
 
“If we have to go back to Burma they should prepare the land for us and make sure that there will be no more human rights abuse. Then we can go back to Burma,” said Kaw Lua, a camp resident.
 
In the meantime, despite Burma’s political transition, the future of the country’s ethnic groups remains uncertain as a new generation grows up in camps just beyond its borders.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs