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

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra 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.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid