Thailand Burma BorderBurma Border Thailand
Thailand at a glance
Uremma has been through one of the world's greatest crises and most prolonged migrants. Burma's border areas are home to a population of mostly ethnical nationality, which has escaped the brunt of violent clashes, and the Myanmar army is carrying out violations of international law that have lasted for years. Burma's civilian confrontation, which began in 1949 with the Karen militia, was described as the longest continuing struggle in the entire planet, and the Myanmar army to vanquish the ethnical militia has conducted its campaign against ethnical oppositions.
This has resulted in persistent harassment of the village ethnics, especially in areas where an active militarised ethnical rioter. Altogether, about three million refugees are said to have escaped Burma's violent conflict (Refugees International, 2015), while nearly 700,000 IDPs, most of them in south-eastern Burma (IDMC, 2016a).
Because of the closeness, several hundred thousand have escaped conflicts and persecutions in neighboring Thailand. The majority of these are Karen, Karenni, Shan and Mon. Burmese also include Arakanese, Chin, Kachin, Naga and many more. Given that consecutive reigning missions have exercised oppressive strategic controls over the resource-rich ethnical frontier areas throughout the land, ethnical forces have struggled to defend their land and their peoples, and ethnical civilisations have endured the upsurge.
Moreover, tens of thousand Burmese citizens (also known as Bama ) have passed the border to escape the oppressive regime, mostly because of their participation in the Yangon and other big cities' pro-democracy clash. Notwithstanding Burma's opening up since 2011 and the victory of the National League for Democracy in the 2015 election, little has happened to the Burmese border area and the causes of the dispute are unclear.
Meanwhile, many civilians have escaped to Thailand because Burma's armed forces controls have slowly undermined the basis of life and caused extreme levels of livelihood deprivation and deprivation through the use of hard labor, indiscriminate taxes, physical activity and trading barriers (see e.g. KHRG, 2008). The distinction between returnees and foreigners is hard to make in this context: for example, tens of thousand student have come to the detention centres for educational purposes only, while tens of millions of de facto returnees live outside the centres as undocumented newcomers.
Since the Thai government is severely restricting the life of migrants and the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for the Status of Humanitarian Aid (UNHCR) in the missions, many migrants in need of global assistance have decided to do so. For example, those who have escaped from militarily caused impoverishment are not recognised as migrants.
Nobody knows the precise number of those who have passed the border from Burma to Thailand, and even less the number of persons who would be internationally protected as migrants. UNHCR and the Border Consortium (TBC) are the latter a border assistance co-ordination organisation and are a serious understatement of actual numbers of displaced persons, as de facto displaced persons are left outside their shelter and assistance.
The UNHCR reports that Thailand admitted 72,900 recorded Burmese migrants and 51,500 "people in fugitive situations" in January 2015 (UNHCR, 2015a). The TBC reported in August 2016 that a population of 103,762 are living in ten centres on the border between Thailand and Burma (TBC, August 2016). The TBC data base contains all recorded and unrecorded asylum seekers in the centres.
Concerning the IDP population, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) estimated that there were 662,400 in Burma in March 2015 due to conflicts and force, most of them in south-eastern Burma (IDMC, 2016a). For years, even years, the thousand people in the border camp between Thailand and Burma have been living in a long drawn-out state.
Her continued imprisonment in the refugee centres has caused not only many protective worries, but also societal and mental illness. Since the Thai government has forbidden the escapees to travel outside the camp, to cultivate or to collect fire wood, the refugees' management mechanism has been very undermined. In 2015, TBC reported that approximately 3,300 persons came back to Burma, while another 6,297 displaced persons were relocated to third lands (TBC, 2016a).
UNHCR targets are significantly higher, with the agency's 2016 indicators suggesting that 45,000 Burmese migrants, almost half of the country's total populations, "will leave through supported volunteer repatriation" (UNHCR, 2016b). Recently, there has been more insecurity for returnees in the centres than ever before, as assistance and supplies to returnees are being reduced as humanitarian assistance has moved from the border to Burma; rumors of return are spread in the returnees' community; and growing limitations on the movement and livelihood of the returnees have further limited their livelihoods since the Thai fighting putsch in May 2014 (see e.g. Saw Yan Naing, July 2014a).
Within the Karen state in East Burma, it is easily seen why tens of thousands are crossing the Thai border to avoid poverty. TBC found in a major survey in 2012 that 59% of the population in southeastern Burma were poor and 73% had no clean drinkable waters (TBC, 2012c).
This is particularly worrying given that Burma is a resource-rich nation where the people' s standards of livelihood should be significantly higher. As a result of poor management (or conscious accumulation of riches in the arms of Burma generals) and armed terrorization of civilians, Burma had grown from one of the richest South East Asia nations to one of the impoverished in 1987 and was even ranked as one of the least advanced nations in the hemisphere (Booth, 2003).
Because of the difficulty of entry into the camp and the limited living conditions in the camp, an vast majority of Burmese exile, among them de facto migrants, lives as irregular immigrants in Thailand. Meanwhile, tens of thousand displaced people have passed away in the border camp who have never been able to go back to their homes. There has been a new breed of refugee that has never abandoned the doors of the only house they know.
The UN has adopted annually since 1991 UN Resolutions urging the Burmese government to observe fundamental freedoms (e.g. UN General Assembly, 2014a, 2015), and while the dispute and mistreatment continue, the EU has recently declared that it will refrain from tabling another UN Res. which criticises the country's HR records (see e.g. Kaspar, September 2016).
While there is a frame of global doctrines that recognize and defend the intrinsic humanity' s intrinsic worth and equitable, unalienable human prerogatives, these doctrines are of little importance to Burmese migrants living in Thailand. Pursuant to Art. 14 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): "Everyone has the right to apply for and benefit from political refuge from prosecution in other countries".
Under the 1951 United Nations Convention and its 1967 Protocol on the Status of Refugees, no State Party may in any way deport or repatriate a fugitive to the borders of areas where his existence or liberty would be endangered on the grounds of racial, religious, national, racial or religious belief or his or her affiliation with a particular group of people or nationalities.
" Thailand-Italy is not a contracting state to the 1951 Convention or its 1967 Protocol, and as such there are no official references to Thailand as a place of refugee or shelter. At the other end of the scale, we must recognise the enormous difficulties in handling a situation of asylum that is as great and lengthy as that along the Thai-Burmese border.
That is why the 2008 IRC called on the non-recognised world to step up assistance to key non-recognised fugitive rescue agencies. The IRC declared that the Thai authorities should not take sole charge of the reception of such people ("Green-Rauenhorst, Jacobsen, & Pyne, 2008). Thailand has also become a pulsating crossroads for Burma's resistance and capacity-building movements as it has taken in a large number of exiled Burmese.
While many expatriate campaigners and organizations have carried out at least some operation within the Burma after opening up more room for civic participation, many groups are still working on the border between Thailand and Burma, where several Burmese relief, educational, advocacy and prodemocracy organizations have been active for many years. They work for a free and tranquil Burma by implementing programs for the development of capacities and consciousness formation, training and conducting training sessions and documentation of violations of human rights there.
For this reason, a high proportion of the Burmese population, trained in areas such as humanitarian and Burma affairs, lives on the Thai-Burmese border. They will have priceless expertise and capabilities for Burma's continued success, especially in establishing a strong institutional base that will be an essential part of a viable civic community founded on liberty and equity.
In Thailand, a number of locally and internationally-based CBO and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also help internally displaced persons in East Burma who cannot be contacted from the interior of the state. As there are no healthcare institutions in many areas of the countryside, every year tens of thousand persons cross the border to seek care at the Mae Tao Clinic in the Thai border city of Mae Sot in the Thai province of Tak.
For over two centuries, the hospital has been treating tens of millions of Burmese people for free. Despite the continuing Burmese civil and civic change and the NLD-led government taking power in April 2016, these changes have affected the country's people in various ways. At the border, the positive attitude of the global humanitarian movement and the contagious concept that internally displaced people will soon return to Burma has further reduced donors' funds, which has hit fugitives and internally expelled people, whose livelihood depends on the provision of humanitarian assistance and basic needs and programmes of indigenous people.
Now that there have been fewer hostilities and immediate assaults on Burmese citizens in south-eastern Burma, the country's invasion has intensified and the Burmese army is strengthening its position in ethnically segregated areas (see, for example, for many individuals and organizations along the Thai-Burmese border, the most important transformation brought about by the reform has been a significant decrease in assistance and financing.
Whilst more opportunity is now available for community based agencies to work within Burma, many CBO's are worried that they will be pushed by the donor community within the Burmese territory before they are prepared to work there. Although some agencies might be relatively confident about working internally, many of their programmes, such as placements to build capacities that would have in Thailand links to overseas voluntary workers, the web, power and information of concern, are seriously hindered if they are compelled to work internally.
Meanwhile, there is also increasing concern that people will be forced back, directly or implicitly, before circumstances allow them to come back with a feeling of expectation and worth. Discussions on returning people have raised concerns among the camp community as there are still significant barriers to secure returns, such as the absence of lasting peace, continuing conflicts and breaches of humanitarian law, and landmines.
With donor cuts and the Thai government increasingly restricting refugee movement to work outside the camp, many return from the camp due to pushing forces in the receiving countries and not pulling forces in their countries of descent, contrary to the UN defining the concept of volunteer returnees as defined by the UN (UNHCR, 1996).
It has been a living platform for working for a free, democracy and freedom in Burma for many years. As long as there are no answers to the policy objectives of the various national ethnicities of the state, there will be no lasting answers for the population groups affected by war. Further work at the border before and during the border should be supported by the global fellowship, which includes the donor countries.
It is essential for genuine transformation in Burma that municipalities and border organizations affected by the fighting are fully involved and assisted in the trial (see Refugee Return for more information). They are continuing their daily lives in the refugee camp amid increasing concerns that they might be repatriated too soon.