Government to ask 70,000 refugees to go home

Government to ask 70,000 refugees to go home

PHITSANULOK - Thailand will ask nearly 70,000 refugees displaced by skirmishes in Myanmar to return home, but only on a voluntary basis. Those ready to make the trip back home will be sent only gradually, 3rd Army chief Lt Gen Vijak Siribansop said Thursday.

Nay Pyi Taw has prepared areas for them and current peace talks with armed ethnic groups in Myanmar look promising, he said.

Their return will focus on their "safety and dignity" to ensure there will be no danger to them and that they receive good treatment, Lt Gen Vijak said. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will coordinate and fund the refugees' return, while the Thai government will act as a facilitator, he said.

There are currently 69,128 Myanmar refugees living in seven camps overseen by the 3rd Army. They are Ban Ma La in Tha Song Yang district, Ban Um Piam in Phop Phra district and Ban Nu Pho in Umphang district.

The other four camps are in remote villages in Mae Hong Son -- Ban No Soi in Muang district, Ban Mae Suri in Khun Yuam district, while Ban Mae Lama Luang and Ban Mae La Lun are in Sop Moei district.

"We will also teach the refugees about King Rama IX's sufficiency economy," Lt Gen Vijak said, hoping these principles would be able to inspire them to pursue productive lives in Myanmar.

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