A glimmer of hope for Myanmar refugees


Thais have greatly benefited from immigration and they would be catastrophic without it, leaving their industries severly understaffed and even insolvent. But their attitude towards foreigners in distress is far less welcoming on assumption that they constitute a danger to societies. Realizing the plight of those in trouble in the other country, the incumbent government which came to power on the platform of change has vowed to work towards bringing home hundreds of thousands of Myanmar refugees along the Myanmar-Thailand border, taking a strong stance on them. This has been very good news for the downtrodden.
All refugees in Thailand are undocumented and Myanmar refugees are no exception, making them extremely vulnerable to human rights abuse and depriving them of access to education, medical care and employment. According to sources, there are roughly 105,000 Myanmar refugees in nine camps on the Myanmar-Thai border, most of whom being subject to a pattern of gross violations such as summary executions, arbitrary arrest and ill-treatment.
With democratic changes afoot in Myanmar, the possibility of bringing home refugees is now on the horizon. On the face of it, the project sounds positive. The reality, however, is more complex. Much rests on the relationship between the two countries, both of which need to work out a mechanism that enables the deprived to lead a new life. It is, in any case, easier to bring refugees home than enhance their well-being without undermining natural environment or resource base.
To remain relevant and useful to its people, the Myanmar government has been implementing such projects since 2013 in Kayin, Mon, Kayah, Shan and Chin States and Taninthayi and Bago Regions with the use of US$ 9.05m in cooperation with the UNHCR. The daunting task has as much to do with the other country’s willingness to co-operate. It has spawned a great number of initiatives that touched on a wide range of topics to bring a glimmer hope to the refugees.
As globalization continues, it is high time for Myanmar and Thailand to catalyze further actions to control their differences, and only through common understanding and joint actions can the mission be accomplished.

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