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Thailand: Refugees

Volume 480: debated on Monday 6 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he has taken to raise concerns with the Royal Thai Government on the recent deportation of Karen refugees, including women and children, to Burma from camps in Thailand. (222582)

The UK Government is aware of recent reports of forced returns of Karen refugees from Thailand to Burma. The British embassy and Department for International Development officials in Bangkok frequently raise refugee welfare issues with the Royal Thai Government, most recently in August 2008.

In 2008-09 DFID is providing £1 million to the Thailand Burma Border Consortium for its work supporting Burmese refugees in Thailand and internally displaced people inside Burma. This is a 30 per cent. increase on our 2007-08 contribution. In addition, DFID will provide £550,000 for assistance to internally displaced people through community-based organisations inside Burma, an increase of £150,000 over 2007-08. This aid will reach over 100,000 displaced people, mostly in Karen communities, living near Burma's border with Thailand.

The UK Government condemns the continuing human rights abuse inflicted by the Burmese regime on its people, including ethnic groups such as the Karen. A political settlement acceptable to the ethnic nationalities is key to a durable solution to Burma's problems. The UK Government frequently brings reports of human rights abuse to the attention of the international community, the United Nations and the Human Rights Council.