Refugees Protest Over ‘Unfair’ UNHCR Program

Nu po camp protest

Refugees on the Thai Burma border are furious over what they perceive as ‘bias’ in the United Nations High Commission for Refugees resettlement program.

Refugees from Nu Poe Camp, based in Thailand’s Tak’s province, on the Thai-Burma border, marched in protest, claiming that there was discrimination in UNHCR’s third country resettlement program.

Around 150 refugees took place in the January 22 march, local sources told Karen News.

U Lin Lin, a leader of Nu Poe Camp Section 16 (A-B) who was at the protest, said that the refugees stood in front of Nu Poe’s UNHCR office for two hours to demand a ‘fairer’ third country resettlement program.

U Lin Lin said that, “There is only one option: for people who already have their relatives in third countries to get to a third country via UNHCR’s Reunion Process. But for everyone else it is hopeless. So we are protesting against this.”

The protestors feel bitter at not being able to go through a third country resettlement. Some of the protestors had been living in the refugee camp for over a decade, but they still had had no progress in their application to resettle to a third country.

The protestors said they were also protesting against recent reductions in the rice ration by the Thai Border Consortium (TBC), that delivers aid to the refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border.

“Refugees are facing livelihood problems for their families.” U Lin Lin added.

The protestors demanded that UNHCR, 1. ‘Stop the discrimination’ and, 2. ‘Provide equal opportunities and treatment,” a source at the camp told Karen News.

Saw Lah Hset, Chairperson of Nu Poe Camp, said that efforts were being made to reach an agreement.

“We are in mutual discussions with protestors about the issues they are raising. The officers from UNHCR in Nu Poe have also taken notes on the issues raised. However, we still do not know how they [the UNHCR] will deal with the situation.”

Nu Poe refugee camp was established in 1997 as peole fled conflict inside Burma and has a population of around 12,600, according to the TBC’s latest figures. There have been at least four protests inside the camp since it was founded.

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