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REPORT ON COMMUNICATIONS (THE TRIB
Subject: REPORT ON COMMUNICATIONS (THE TRIBAL REFUGEE WELFARE jUNE 95)
---------- 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) "------- */
* TRW: LETTER TO THE U.N.H.C.R IN THAILAND
TRIBAL REFUGEE WELFARE IN SOUTHE EAST ASIA (INC.)
PO BOX 215, MIRRABOOKA, WESTERN AUSTRALIA 6061
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
Dated 15th June 1995
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
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
Sd. C.V. Allmark
Copy to: 1. Hon. Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs
Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs
Canberra ACT 2600
2. Immigration Section
37 South Sathorn Road
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
* TRW: LETTER FROM UNHCR, THAILAND
UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES
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.
Sd. Ruprecht von Arnim
Representative in Thailand
/* Endreport */