Starting in July Thai authorities are to start recording the refugee population in an attempt to verifying the number of refugees living in camps on the Thai-Burma border in Tak province.
Saw George, vice chairperson of the Karen Refugee Committee, confirmed to Karen News about the process.
“We’ve learned that the verification process will start on 8th July. Since this is the verification of population, everyone including students who are studying in other places outside the camp will have to come back. If someone is not present during the verification, then they wouldn’t be considered as a camp resident anymore.”
According to sources in the refugee community, the verification team will include Royal Thai Army and police officials and during the process. During the verification period traveling in and out of the camp will be restricted. The verification process is not linked to the United Nation High Commission for Refugee as is being carried out by Thai authorities.
Camp residents from Nu Po Refugee Camp said that the verification process had started there at the end of June.
Saw Lah Hset, the camp leader at Nu Po refugee camp spoke to Karen News.
“They [Thai authorities] will conduct population verification in every [refugee] camp. The process started here on June 28. It is mainly done by Thai security officials, but the verification team composed of two Thai officials and two local [camp] section leaders.”
Saw Lah Hset said the Thai officials asked the camp residents for their UNHCR household registration and that they would verify people who are present in the camp against the registration form. Refugees who are not present, their names will be recorded and if they are to consider themselves refugees, they must be back in the camp within one month.
Naw Amwee, a No Po camp resident spoke to Karen News about her concerns about the verification process.
“They [Thai authorities] recorded names of those who are not present during the verification [process]. Some people can’t come back [to the camp] as they go outside the camp to work or if they are students, study outside the camp. We’ve heard that these people can’t stay in the camp anymore and will not be able to get food rations. Many people are saying many different things and we are very worried about our future.”
On the 1st July, there was an statement put out by the Thai authority in Mae La refugee camp referring to the policy of the National Council for Peace and Order (Kaw.Saw.Chaw) titled Keeping under control for the stability in Mae La camp. The document stated three main rules that camp residents have to follow.
The statement stated that, “…refugees are associated with the problems of deforestation, illegal working outside and illegal drug dealings, so that they are expected to follow the policy…”.
The statement contained three rules to solve the problems and listed punishments for anyone breaking the rules. These ranged from food ration cuts for a month, doing community work, termination of their refugee status, banned from staying in the camp and legal action according to Thai laws.