Refugee Activists Discuss Pressure to Return from Thai-Myanmar Border at Chiang Mai Seminar

At a public seminar in Thailand last week, Karen and Karenni officials raised concerns about the increasing pressure for refugees to return from the Thai-Myanmar border as international funding for camps dries up.

“The refugees from the Thai-Myanmar border are not ready to return home,” said Naw Elizabeth, deputy director of the Karenni Education Department, who took part in the September 13 seminar at Chiang Mai University.

“We discussed the need for international donors to continue their support as the refugees’ continue to have basic unmet needs [like] education and health,” she added.

The public event, called “Syria to Myanmar: Who are Refugees?” was organized by the US Embassy in Thailand and Chiang Mai University. About 100 people attended, included members of refugee and internally displaced persons assistance groups like the Border Consortium, the Karen Refugee Committee, the Karenni Education Department and the Shan Women’s Action Network.

Over 100,000 refugees live in nine refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border while over 3,000 Karen IDPs remain at the Ei Tu Hta temporary shelter and over 6,000 Shan IDPs are residing in camps along the Thai-Shan border, according to refugee activists. They added that after the Myanmar government and ethnic armed organizations signed ceasefire agreements and started implementing the peace process beginning in 2011, pressure has escalated for refugees and IDPs to return to their homes. While international aid organizations, swamped with other, fresher crises, are forced to dedicate resources elsewhere, the Myanmar refugees say their needs are increasingly going unmet, while lack of livelihoods in their original villages, and in some cases the threat of landmines and fresh conflict, prevents an easy return.

“The international community does not know the real situation of our refugees. I’m glad to have the chance to explain how the issues occurring at the Karen refugee camps are directly related to Myanmar politics,” said Saw Hay Soe Thar Ko, an education officer with the Karen Refugee Committee.

According to participants, a foreign student also discussed the ongoing crisis in Rakhine State at the seminar. Over 400,000 Muslim residents have fled over the border to Bangladesh in the past month, while 30,000 Buddhist and Hindu villagers have been internally displaced by fighting between an insurgent group and the Tatmadaw.

  • Written by Saw Shar/ KIC News

The original article can be viewed via BNI at:

http://www.bnionline.net/news/karen-state/item/3497-refugee-activists-discuss-pressure-to-return-from-thai-myanmar-border-at-chiang-mai-seminar.html

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KWO Three Year Report for 2014, 2015 and 2016

A selection of figures from some of our projects:

  • 6,087 children were supported through KWO Nursery schools in 2014; 5,939 in 2015 and 5,693 in 2016.
  • Nursery schools are in 6 districts of Karen State, 2 refugee camps in Thailand, and Ee Tu Hta IDP camp.
  • 11,194 Baby kits were distributed to women in 2014, 2015 and 2016 by KWO. These were distributed across the 7 districts of Karen State and in Ee Tu Hta IDP camp, Karen State.
  • 28 young women graduated from KWO’s KYWLS in 2014. 18 graduated in 2015. 26 graduated in 2016.
  • Every year KWO runs activities centering on the International Campaign 16 days of Activism to End Violence Against Women. In 2014, 2015 and 2016 all together 41, 022 men and women were engaged in these actions

Download the full three year report in English: KWO three year report (2014 – 2016)