The 38,000 refugees in Mae La camp benefited froma clean environment through the effective operation ofa waste management system.
Some 4,500 refugees participated in training in Thailanguage, culture and environmental protection, andvocational skills.
A general election was held at the end of 2007.Migratory movements into Thailand have increased,with the country currently hosting more that two millionmigrants. Thailand is particularly concerned aboutnational security and bilateral cooperation, whichrestricts the availability of asylum space for certaingroups of concern. UNHCR faced challenges inupholding its mandate as well as in finding solutions forrefugees and asylum-seekers in detention, a trend whichincreased during the year and also affected manychildren.
Achievements and impact
In 2007, UNHCR’s objectives were to improveprotection in the camps, promote and assist thedevelopment of a State-run asylum system, mitigate theconsequences of prolonged encampment on refugees,and improve their prospects for self-reliance. The Officealso aimed to broaden the strategic use of resettlementas part of a comprehensive solution to the protractedrefugee situation in the camps, strengthen partnershipswith NGOs and other stakeholders, and find solutionsfor refugees from countries other than Myanmar.
Protection and solutions
Myanmar refugees have been living in closed camps formore than two decades. Some children and adolescentsdo not know any environment other than that of arefugee camp. Despite UNHCR’s advocacy, the refugeesdo not enjoy freedom of movement or access to the locallabour market. The negative consequences of suchprolonged encampment on refugees’ protection, mentalhealth and social life are significant.UNHCR has made efforts to mitigate this by improvingthe administration of justice in the camps, ensuring thatan adequate prevention and response mechanism forsexual and gender-based violence is in place, andimplementing vocational training activities. Access toeducation has also been improved, although it is stilllimited.While UNHCR will continue to work on comprehensivesolutions, resettlement to third countries is the mostaccessible solution for many refugees. The scope of thisactivity grew considerably in 2007, as the Office wasable to submit the cases of some 30,400 refugees toresettlement countries, making Thailand the largestresettlement operation in the world.The situation of asylum-seekers and non-Myanmarrefugees was precarious throughout 2007. Arrests andprolonged detention for certain groups were reported,most notably 152 Lao Hmong refugees (including 82children) detained since December 2006. UNHCR andthe Thai authorities continued their consultations on theOffice’s mandate and its exercise of refugee statusdetermination with the aim of reaching a commonunderstanding.
Activities and assistance
Most assistance activities for the Myanmar refugees innine camps in Thailand are conducted by operationalpartners working within a common cooperativearrangement. UNHCR’s involvement is limited to fillingunmet needs, and it can therefore focus onprotection-related activities.
The monitoring system forunaccompanied and separated children identified over8,000 cases in the nine camps. It ensured that childrenwith special needs received support and assistance.UNHCR staff visited 1900 children living in 100boarding houses, as well as 350 children in foster care.Prosthetic and rehabilitation services for the disabled,including landmine victims, benefited a total of 3,500persons. As part of the strategy to address sexual andgender-based violence in the camps, all victims in needof assistance were provided safe shelter. Committees toaddress this issue were established in all camps, andawareness campaigns were conducted.
Domestic needs and household support:
Subsistenceallowances were given to over 1,200 very vulnerableurban refugees, and supplementary food rations wereprovided to almost 900 people of concern.
Some 1,500 refugee children attendednursery schools and 850 students benefited fromcomputer training. Almost 3,000 refugees graduatedfrom 50 vocational training courses and some 8,000refugees participated in Thai language courses.In addition, 378 children took advantage of theplaygrounds in two of the camps.
Health and nutrition:
Awareness campaigns on hygieneand reproductive health in Tham Hin camp targetedrefugee children and adolescents and had a positiveimpact on health and sanitation. UNHCR expanded itssubstance-abuse and HIV-prevention activities in 2007.
380UNHCR Global Report 2007
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