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Burmese refugees in camps along the Thai border are to be given vocational training in an effort to increase the number of refugees willing to return to their home country.
Office of the Vocational Education Commission head Chanvech Boonpraderm yesterday signed an agreement with ACTED Thailand to provide vocational and skills training at camps along the border, which house an estimated 150,000 displaced people from Burma.
David Brown, director of ACTED Thailand, an international non-governmental organisation funding the project, expects 1,400 refugees, mainly youth and young adults, to benefit from the programme, to be rolled out gradually at a number of border camps.
He hopes it will also help refugees gain work opportunities and improve their access to the job market.
“We hope that our project can help refugees get ready for life outside the refugee camps and possibly encourage them to return to their homeland,” he said.
Mr Chanvech said 10 courses will be offered including dressmaking, construction, mechanics and hotel management, which are much-needed skills in Burma.
“There are approximately 100 hours of work involved in the courses and they have been designed to match the needs of Myanmar’s labour market,” Mr Chanvech said.
The programmes will firstly be offered at two camps in Mae Hong Son, although there are plans to expand them to seven other camps in the near future.
Burmese people have been fleeing to Thailand to escape conflict and human rights abuses since 1984.
At present, an estimated 150,000 displaced persons are living in nine government-run camps along the Thai border.
In recent years, ceasefires signed between the Burmese government and several ethnic armed groups have led to a decrease in security incidents in the country’s southeast, creating conditions that Thai authorities believe now allow refugees to return safely.
This article was originally published by the Bangkok Post on 2 July, 2015.