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Bangkok Post News (1/11/98)

UN envoy pleased with plans for Karen refugee relocation
Looking into cases at four other camps

United Nations emissary Alvaro de Soto is happy with preparations for
relocation of Karen refugees from border areas to a new camp deeper inside
Region 3 staff officer, Maj Chamlong Pothong, said yesterday in Tak
province that Mr De Soto is satisfied with the arrangements and is also
looking into the UNHCR taking charge of more than 57,000 refugees in four
other camps.
Maj Chamlong said security would first be provided by the army and then
handed over to the Interior Ministry and territorial defence volunteers.
The new camp covering 800 rai is on deteriorate forest land near Mae
Sot-Umphang highway.
It is expected to house 17,500 Karen in two camps in Mae Sot and Phrop phra
The proposed use of the land is being considered by the Interior Ministry
and the Forestry Department.
Mr. De Soto yesterday also inspected Mae La camp in Tha Song Yang district.
Meanwhile, the security force in Mae Hong Son is closely monitoring the
movement of Burmese minority rebels who pose a threat to villagers near the
A source said three main rebel groups - the Wa, the Shan State Army, and
the Muser - are reportedly active around Doi Pak Kud in a mountain range
lying between Pang Ma Pa and Pai districts some 90km north of Mae Hong Son
city centre.
The Muser force, a Mong Tai Army breakaway group with about 200 armed men,
was known to have crossed the border to rob Thai villagers.
Its men and the other rebels also extort protection money from drug
racketeers using Doi Pak Kud as a transport channel.
Samrerng Punapokorn, Mae Hong Son governor, said apart from the minority
armies, incursion from the Burmese government troops also poses a problem.
The latest incident involving the rebels was the robbery of rifles from
local farmers.
But Mr. Samrerng assured the authorities had swift measures to repel them.
As with the Rangoon army, the governor insisted compromise would be sought
to prevent future intrusions as well as to avert diplomatic friction.
The incursion often happened because of the unclear border demarcation.