Uncertain fate surrounds Myanmar’s border outcasts
Displaced members of ethnic groups living in camps are worried cuts to food, health and education are signs of secret plans to force them back
It is a difficult time to be a refugee on the Thai-Myanmar border. Last month, the US all but stopped its refugee resettlement programme and many aid agencies have reduced their services.
STATE OF FLUX: The Mae La refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar border. Last month, the US all but stopped its refugee resettlement programme and many aid agencies have reduced their services. (Photos by Phil Thorhton and Saw Mort)
Meanwhile rumours and misinformation continue to circulate around the future of the nine refugee camps on the Thai-Myanmar border, estimated to be home to between 128,000 and 140,000 displaced people. Rumours include stories that Muslims will be forced to convert to Christianity before they will be registered for possible resettlement; that resettled Karen men had to sign up to fight for the United States in the Middle East; that fires at camps were deliberately started by drones or saboteurs; and that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and its aid agency allies have a detailed “secret plan” to repatriate all camp residents to Myanmar government “holding pens”.
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