Kasit vows not to repatriate refugees until Burma ‘stable’
Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya says Burmese refugees in Thailand will not be immediately repatriated after the Nov 7 general election in Burma.
The government would assess the situation in Burma following the election and would only go ahead with repatriation once it was confident that the political situation there was stable and the refugees would be safe, Mr Kasit said yesterday in Mae Sot district.
During his visit to the district, Mr Kasit also met with representatives of the 3rd Army Region, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organisation for Migration, the International Rescue Committee and other humanitarian groups.
Mr Kasit said the political situation was expected to stabilise after the election, and many Burmese refugees in Thailand were expected to return home.
The government would make the safety of refugees a top priority and would consult all relevant parties before arranging the deportation, he said.
“The Thai government will take into account human rights issues and will do its best on this matter,” said Mr Kasit.
He said certain countries, such as the United States, are ready to financially support activities aimed at preparing refugees for deportation.
“The Thai government has worked on the improvement of refugees’ education, access to water and food, living conditions and health and has also provided vocational training for them,” said Mr Kasit.
He said deportation would begin systematically once the Thai government deems the country ready to take back its citizens.
There are about 200,000 Burmese in nine refugee camps in Thailand. Mae La camp in Mae Sot district is one of the largest, with about 50,000 refugees, 20,000 of whom are children.
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