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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Burmese Refugees in Thailand


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There are roughly 150,000 Burmese refugees in nine official camps on the Thai-Burma border, and more than two million Burmese migrants residing primarily in urban areas of Thailand. Refugees have been residing in the Thai-Burma border camps for more than 25 years. According to Thai law, undocumented Burmese found outside of the camps are subject to arrest and deportation and refugees have no legal right to employment.

More than 60,000 Burmese refugees resident in Thailand since 2005 have been resettled in third countries, 50,000 of them in the United States. Implementation of a UNHCR, NGO and donor-proposed "Framework for Durable Solutions" for assistance to the refugee population in Thailand, currently under discussion, would promote self-reliance opportunities for the Burmese. It will be a major step forward in the ongoing dialogue among donors, the Royal Thai Government (RTG), UNHCR and NGOs on finding durable solutions for Burmese refugees. The Framework would also provide an opportunity for elevated U.S. Government engagement in this protracted refugee situation.

The U.S. Government will continue to fund assistance to the 150,000 refugees in the camps, and will work with other donors to ensure their continued commitment to this vulnerable population. Once the Framework for Durable Solutions is finalized, the United States. will advocate for support and implementation of the Framework within the broader context of Thai development strategies: by integrating the camp health systems into the Thai health system; by standardizing education in the camps in line with Thai and international standards; and by expanding livelihood pilot projects.

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