The deputy-governor of Thailand’s Tak Province said preparations are underway to repatriate more than 100,000 refugees living in camps along the Thai-Burmese border.
Speaking to reporters at the end of a meeting relating to refugee issues, Tak Deputy-Governor Suttha Saivanid said the Thai government has been taking steps to repatriate the refugees since a new government took office in Burma earlier this month.
The governments of the two countries, together with the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, are set to brainstorm a road map for the repatriation, he said.
According to Suttha, Thai officials expect to repatriate over 100,000 people from three refugee camps within two to three years’ time. He added that the UNHCR will assist with their rehabilitation in Burma for a period of time after their return.
The meeting at the hall of the Mae Sot Special Economic Zone was joined by representatives of the UNHCR and leaders of the Umpium, Mae La and Nupo refugee camps situated in the province.
Saw Honest, the chairman of Mae La refugee camp, told DVB he was not present at the meeting, but said two Thai government officials visited the camp the evening before and discussed a plan to inspect locations for refugee resettlement across the border in Karen State’s Hpa-an Township.
There are a total of nine refugee camps along the Thai-Burmese border, including the three in Tak Province.
Reporting by DVB