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Thailand: Karen Refugees

Volume 704: debated on Monday 6 October 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action they have taken to raise concerns with the Government of Thailand regarding the recent deportation of Karen refugees, including women and children, to Burma from camps in Thailand. [HL5171]

We are aware of reports of forced returns of Karen refugees in Thailand. Our embassy in Bangkok frequently raises refugee welfare issues with the Royal Thai Government. Recent discussions have covered the need for measures to mitigate the impact of the increase in the price of rice, refugees' access to jobs and education and the impact of Cyclone Nargis on the camps.

The Government have increased support for Burmese refugees in Thailand and have recently allocated a further £1 million to the Thailand Burma Border Consortium for its work supporting Burmese refugees in Thailand and internally displaced people inside Burma. In 2007-08, the Department for International Development provided £400,000 for assistance to internally displaced people through community-based organisations inside Burma. This reached over 100,000 displaced people, mostly in Karen communities, living near Burma's border with Thailand.

The UK condemns the continuing human rights abuses and the political, social and economic restrictions from which the ethnic groups of Burma—including the Karen—have suffered under the current regime. Acceptable agreement for the ethnic nationalities is key to a durable solution to Burma's problems. We continue to bring reports of human rights abuses to the attention of the international community, the UN and the UN Human Rights Council.