Forced Returns of Karen Refugees to Burma

On July 17th, Thai paramilitary forces rounded up 52 Karen from two refugee camps in Thailand’s Mae Hong Son province along the Burma border and, while they permitted 17 students to stay on the Thai side, sent 35 of the refugees across the border to Ei Tu Hta relocation site in Burma.  (See link from Human Rights Watch).

a) This is wrong! It is called “refoulement” ( .  These civilians fled the fighting in Burma in early 2008.  Now they are being forced back into an active war zone with the Burma Army.  

 b)  According to an announcement sent out by Partners Relief & Development, “the camp committee arranged 2 weeks of food rations (rice, salt, fishpast and cooking oil) as well as 20 large plastic sheets from their emergency stock and these items were allowed to be sent with this group of people. However the Thai Rangers did not allow any other NFIs such as blankets, mosquito nets, mats, cooking pots, etc to be sent, the reason being given that they have a very limited budget and cannot afford an extra boat for this trip“.   

According to local refugee sources, more forced returns are threatened.  There are currently an estimated 20,000 unregistered people out of the 148,000 in the nine Karen and Karenni refugee camps along the border.  

Help in meeting the basic needs of internally displaced people in Ei Tu Hta can be provided through Displaced Persons Response Network, Partners Relief & Development or World Aid, Inc.

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