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U.N. fears for Burma refugees

Sunday, July 27, 2014 - 01:45

The U.N. warns Burmese refugees living in Thailand will face serious dangers if they are repatriated. Paul Chapman reports.

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Thailand began a census of Burmese refugees at the country's largest camp on July 21st. The army now running the government says it will send home to Myanmar about 100, 000 of the refugees who've been living in camps along the border for more than two decades. (SOUNDBITE)(Thai) COLONEL TERDSAK NGAMSANONG, COMMANDER OF 4TH INFANTRY REGIMENT, SAYING: "The census will have a long-term benefit for repatriation. In the future we will have the same database to share with UNHCR and other organisations." But the United Nations High Commission for Refugees is warning those sent back to Myanmar will face serious dangers. (SOUNDBITE)(English) VIVIAN TAN, UNHCR SPOKESPERSON, SAYING: "Some of the challenges include the absence of a permanent ceasefire, the presence of landmines and mine fields that have never been marked. There is a critical shortage of infrastructure and services. There is limited livelihood opportunity so all of this affects the sustainability and the safety of the refugee returns." Some of those now living in the refugee camps are also worried about the prospect of going back. Many fled to escape poverty, persecution and ethnic wars. (SOUNDBITE)(Burmese) K'PRU HTOO, KAREN REFUGEE, SAYING: "We left because we were fleeing from the conflict. If they send us back there is nowhere for us to stay. We don't have a house any more, so we don't know where to live. That's why we're worried." There are an estimated 120, 000 Burmese refugees living in ten camps along the Thailand-Myanmar border. With no legal status or marketable skills to offer, Thailand has long seen them as a burden.

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U.N. fears for Burma refugees

Sunday, July 27, 2014 - 01:45