Following intense media speculation, Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, released a media statement on Thursday 17 July in an attempt to cool speculation that the refugee camps on the Thai Burma border were about to be closed and residents sent back to Burma.
The MFA’s press release highlighted four main points and underlined that a recent meeting between Thailand and the Burma military, that any discussions on repatriation were in general terms only and without a specific timeframe.
To avoid unnecessary ‘spin’ or misunderstanding among media, international NGOs, community-based groups and especially creating unnecessary fear within the refugee community surrounding this important issue, Karen News has reproduced the MFA’s press release in full.
Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Press Release on Displaced persons from Myanmar in Thailand
Recently there have been intensified interests and news circulation about the displaced persons from Myanmar in Thailand. Below are clarifications on this issue.
1. For three decades, Thailand has been hosting around 130,000 displaced persons from Myanmar in our 9 temporary shelters on humanitarian basis.
2. In previous discussions between high-ranking officials of Thailand and Myanmar, the issue of preparing conditions on both sides of the border for a possible return of these displaced persons has always been raised to touch base on both sides.
3. During his recent visit to Thailand, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces, held a bilateral meeting with General Prayuth Chan-o-cha, Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
Both sides touched upon this particular issue, among others, and the Myanmar side reaffirmed its commitment to working closely with Thailand to prepare for a safe return in the future in accordance with humanitarian and human rights principles. The discussion was in general terms with no specific timeframe.
4. Preparedness for a sustainable return of these displaced persons in safety and dignity is vital. Further discussions are needed with all relevant partners and International Organizations, including UNHCR, in this preparation to ensure the success of the process.