[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]



---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 06:06:58 +0930

/* Written 12 Sep 6:00am 1995 by DRUNOO@xxxxxxxxxxxx(DR U NE OO) in igc:reg.burma */
/* -------" Report on Communications (Tribal Refugee Welfare) "------- */

TEL(09) 349 4073   FACSIMILE:(09) 349 5254

Mr Ruprecht von Arnim
Representative in Thailand
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
P.O. Box 2-121, Rajdamnem
Bangkok 10200

Dated 15th June 1995

Dear Sir,

Reports  arriving  here  at  our office concerning the Burmese students and
Karens, Shan , Darenni and Mon refugees in Thailand is distressing  and  we
are  ver  concerned  for  the  welfare  of  these  refugees  whom  the Thai
authorities regard as "illegals".

We are concerned to learn that conditions are tough for thousands of  Karen
refugees left homeless when their Thai border camp was burned down, leaving
them  only  plastic  sheeting  as shelter from heavy rains. The torching of
Huay Manok Camp by the DKBO has left 6,000  Karen  living  in  squalor  and
dread from cross-border raids.

However,  it  is  heartening  to  learn  that  the  Ministry of Interior is
prepared to move the Daren refugees to Mae La which is aobut 10  Kilometers
from  the  border  in Tha Song Yang district which is considered as a "safe
zone" because it is surrounded by nountians that offer natural protection.

If the Thai authorities are prepared to give secrity to Mae La  and  permit
Roving  protection  Officers  from  the  UNHCr  our  concerns for the Daren
refugees would be miniscule.

Reports received in our office regarding Burmese students suffering  trauma
since  early  this  year  due  to  living  conditions  and political forces
impacting the students' lives  due  to  the  Thai  policy  towards  Burmese
illegal immigrants is also distressing.

In  bangkok,  3,000 of the exiled students registered with UNHCR and bacame
recognized by the UN as "persons of concern". But the  Thai  law  considers
them  to  be  illegal immigrants; so they live in hiding and are subject to
arrest,  physical  harm,  detention,  and  deportation,  despite   the   UN
registration  and the fact that they are receiving UNHCR financial support.
Over the past four years the Thai government has attempted to  confine  the
burmese  students  to  a deteition camp that the government calls "The Safe
Area". The students have resisted going into the camp primarily out of fear
of deportation.

Young people are at high risk for experiencing human rights abuses  because
of  their youthful behaviour, disconnection from family and supporters, and
lack of political and economic power. Little is known  of  young  refugees'
traumatic  life  experiences  and health outcomes. Mostly policy  regarding
young  refugees  is  determined  by  political   issues.   Usually   little
consideration  is  given  to  the  traumatic  experiences or the effects of
truama on the  group  seeking  protection.  Similarly,  little,  if  any  ,
attention is paid to the young people's health and psycho-social needs.

We  seek the UNHCR to consider the trauma factors of young student refugees
by seeking legal  status  in  Thailand  so  that  they  may  further  their
education. This would assist the students to gain self-confidence and their
future would not be bleak and hopeless.

In  1992  and  1993 most students wanted legal status in Thailand; now most
students want to leave Thailand. Many have applied for  resettlement  in  a
third  country.  Prior  to  October  1994,  the  students  could prusue the
application and interview process for resettlement in Bangkok and  only  go
to  the Safe Area once they were accepted for resettlement. In other words,
the Safe Area was used as a transit camp. This changed in October 1994; the
students are now required to go th the Safe Area if they  wish  to  proceed
with  the  interviewing  process necessary for acceptance for resettlement.
This has virtually halted the application process. Reports of  violence  in
and  around  the  Safe  Area,  together  with  the  ever  present  fear  of
repatriation to  to Burma restrain most students from considering the  Safe
Area as an option.

The  trauma  the  burmese  students experience in exile is unrelenting. The
violence they initially experienced during  the  uprising  changed  to  the
hardships  of  disease  and  military attack in the jungle, and then to the
dangers and violence of life as an illegal immigrang hiding in Bangkok.  In
view  of  these  facts,  it  is  not  surprising to find that the amount of
depression among the students is very high.

We seek the co-operation of the UNHCR is seeking legal status for the  many
Burmese  young  refugees  to  enable  them to furhter their studies. Such a
legal activiey would provide the young students refugees with  a  sense  of
purpose  to  his/her life and prevent ongoing re-experiencing of truama and
conflicts. Certainly, the opportunity to return to school and pursue  their
education is not only what the students themselves whsh, but an appropriate
alternative as well.

Failing  this,  we  have no alternative but to seek resettlement in a third
country where they can return to school. In this arena, we  have  tried  to
give  genuine asylum seekers from burma our sponsorship for resettlement in
Australia and have appealed to our government raise the small number of 100
to 1000 placements for "Burmese in Thailand".

We appreciate and  thank  the  Representative  in  Thailand  in  concerning
himself  with  the Karen and other refugees along the Burma-Thai border and
his concern  for  the  many  Burmese  students  suffering  night  raids  by
Immigration  authorities  and the forceable arrest, imprisonment and forced
repatriation to Burma, especially those who belong to the NLd and ABSDF.

Thanking you most sincerely and hoping  for  a  favourable  reply  at  your
earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely
Sd. C.V. Allmark

Copy to: 1. Hon. Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs
           Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs
           Parliament House
           Canberra ACT 2600
         2. Immigration Section
           Australian Embasy
           37 South Sathorn Road
           Bangkok 10120
         3. Regional Representative
           United Nations High commissioner for Refugees
           9 Terrigal Crescent
           O'Malley, ACT 2606
         4. H.E. Mr Richard W Butler AM
           Australian Mission to the U.N.
           885 Second Avenue
           New York NY 10017
           United States of America


Branch office for Thailand
P.O.Box 2-121 Rajdamnern
Bangkok 10200, Thailand

27 June 1995

Dear Mr Allmark,

Reference  is  made  to your letter of 15 June relating to the situation of
Myanmar refugees in Thailand.

With respect to the situation of the Karen refugees residing in settlements
along  the  Thai/Myanmar  border,  as  you  have  yourself  noted  in   the
aformentioned  communication,  the  Ministry  of  the Interior of the Royal
Thai Government has commenced the consolidation of the camps  in  both  Tak
and  Mae  Hong  Son  proinces that are deemed most at risk of attack by the
Democratic Kayin Buddhist Army. While the consolidation  is  already  being
implemented  in  Tak province, with two camps already relocated into Mae La
camp, the consokidation of the settlements in Mae Hong  Son  province  into
Mae  Ra Ma Luang and Mae Khong Kha camps has been postponed (at the request
of both the  refugees  and  the  non-governmental  organizations  currently
assisting the camps), due to the monsoon season that renders such movements
difficult for the refugees.

UNHCR   has  lauded  the  above  measures  as  being  bothe  necessary  and
appropriate in order to  ensure  the  safety  and  welfare   of  the  Karen
refugees.  It  should  be  noted  that  the  Ministry  of  the Interior has
indicated that it will maintain a presence in the consolidated camps and be
responsible for the internal security of  the  camps,  while  the  external
security  will  be  assured  by the thai military. MOreover, the camps will
continue to be assisted in terns of food,  health  and  sanitation  by  the
competent  non-governmental  organizations. Finally, UNHCR will continue to
monitor the camps on a regular basis. In light  of  the  foregoing  ,  this
Office  considers  the  current problems and needs of the Karen refugees to
have been satisfactorily addressed by the Thai authorities.

Insofar as the urban Myanmar refugees are concerned, they are subject to  a
1992  directive of the Royal Thai Government which requires their admission
to the Maneeloy Burmese Student Center (more commonly referred  to  as  the
Safe  Area), a semi-open refugee camp located in Ratchaburi province. UNHCR
and many Embassies  have  determined  that  the  Safe  Area  mets  accepted
international  standards  for  the  protetion  and welfare of refugees. The
residents thereof are provided food, shelter,  comprehensive  medical  care
and  educational  opportunities  in the camp. They are also issued identity
documents, enjoy freedom of movement within the province in which the  camp
is  located,  are  permitted  to  study  on UNHCR-sponsored scholarships in
Bangkok. Finally, the refugees have permanent and unhindered access to  the
UNHCR  staff  member  based  permanently  in  the  camp, and are proviede a
monthly stipend by this Office.

With respect to the safety of the residents  in  the  Center,  we  wish  to
inform  you  that  the  concerns  they  ayou have raised in regard to their
possible forced repatriation are unfounded. The regulations  pertaining  to
the  Center  (which  prpvide  legal  status  in  Thailand  to the residents
thereof), the very nature of the camp (which, as previously  mentioned,  is
semi-open) and , most significantly, the presence of the UNHCR staff member
there  ,  hsould prove sufficient to allay such fears. It should further be
noted that the Center was established in 1992 and has continued to function
without any incidents relating to forcible repatriation.

Moreover, in regard to educational opportunities for  Myanmar  refugees  in
Thailand,  it  should  be  noted  that  UNHCR,  in  conjunction  with other
international sponsors, regularly finances scholarships for students  among
the  refugee  population (including Myanmar nationals) in Bangkok. In 1995,
twenty Myanmar refugee students have been selected for these  requirements,
they have all entered the Safe Area in order to be able to study legally in

IN  light  of the above and given the extreme precarity of the situation of
Myanmar refugees in Bangkok, due to the increased arrests of these  persons
by  the  Thai  authorities,  UNHCR  deems  it in the best interest of these
refugees to comply with the Royal Thai Government policy and enter the Safe
Area. To that end, this Office  is  currently  implementing  a  new  policy
whereby  all  Myanmar nationals who are determined to be of concern to this
Office are routinely counselled to enter the SAfe Area in order to legalize
their stay in Thailand, and to benefit from the protection  and  assistance
being  offered in that camp. They would, therefore, no longer receive UNHCR
assistance in Bangkok.

This change in UNHCR policy has been prompted not only by the aformentioned
protection concerns but also by the visible mental trauma and psychological
alienation suffered by the majority of the younger  members  of  the  urban
Myanmar  refugee caseload in Bangkok (and to which you have also alluded in
your letter). The Office considers that these problems are  best  addressed
by  the  admission  of  the refugees into the Safe Area where mental health
counselling and treatment is available.

We hope that the above information proves useful  to  you.  Please  do  not
hesitate  to  contact  this  Office  if you should have further concerns in
regard to this issue.

Yours sincerely
Sd. Ruprecht von Arnim
Representative in Thailand

/* Endreport */