UNHCR helps more refugees return to their homeland

Bangkok: More than 500 refugees are expected to return home as part of a voluntary repatriation process led jointly by the Thai and Myanmar governments this week.

The third such programme, supported by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its partners, aims to provide returning refugees with a chance to rebuild their lives in their home country following decades of displacement in Thailand.

The refugees will depart from five camps on the Thai-Myanmar border and cross over the Kayin and Kayah states.

After being received by authorities at the border, the returnees will then head for reception centres, where they will be provided with assistance, including immigration documentation and medical check-ups. From there, they will go to their final destination.

Recognising improved conditions in parts of southeastern Myanmar, the UNHCR has been supporting this government-led process since late 2016, by helping refugees who have expressed a desire to go back home.

UNHCR also provides counselling and information on conditions back home.

In the two previous movements in October 2016 and May 2018, 164 refugees left Thailand for Myanmar. UNHCR continues to monitor their reintegration and transition to life in present-day Myanmar.

Such initiatives are tailored to the needs of each community, and designed to create and support livelihood opportunities, facilitate access to basic services, as well as ease additional pressure on community infrastructure.

There are more than 97,000 Myanmar refugees, mainly of Karen and Karenni ethnicity, living in nine camps along the Thai-Myanmar border. — The Nation/Asia News Network

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