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Published by: UNHCR_Thailand on May 10, 2013
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Thailand
Main objectives
E
nsurethatadmissionandreceptionofMyanmarasylum-seekers accord with international stan-dards; monitor respect for fundamental refugeerights; prepare refugees from Myanmar for durablesolutions; promote protection for urban refugeesand asylum-seekers by urging close adherence tointernational asylum standards; seek durable solu-tions for urban refugees, including the processing ofcases for resettlement; ensure the provision of careand social support for vulnerable groups; promoteaccession to the 1951 Refugee Convention andcompliance with international refugee law.
Impact
TheRoyalThaiGovernmentagreedtointroduceanational asylum mechanism.The backlog of urban Myanmar refugee toundergostatusdetermination(RSD)wascleared.Over4,800Myanmarrefugeeswereprocessedforresettlement, and by the end of 2004 almost onethird of these persons had departed.15,000 Laotian Hmong refugees were acceptedforresettlement,andbytheyear’send,9,000haddeparted.Formal protocols were developed and imple-mented to address SGBV in all camps.
Working environment
The context
Despite the absence of a legal framework for dealing  with asylum-seekers and refugees, Thailand hasa generous asylum policy in relation to the approxi-mately 140,000 refugees from Myanmar living intemporary asylum to some 1,000 urban asylum-seekers and refugees of other nationalities.
UNHCR Global Report 2004
392
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continued, over a period of two decades, to maintaincamps on the Thai-Myanmar border and to offer
 
In 2004 a new political openness on refugee rights was in evidence. This can be attributed in part toUNHCR’s continued advocacy efforts and in part topoliticaldevelopmentsinMyanmar,andthegrowinrealization in Thailand that early repatriation of themajority of Myanmar refugees would be extremelyunlikely. Progress included the recognition of newarrivals and the acceptance of UNHCR’s proposal toestablish a national asylum mechanism through theProvincial Admissions Boards (PABs) (expected toresume in 2005). The Government also agreed toUNHCR’s proposals to resettle some 5,000Myanmar refugees living in urban areas. By the endof 2004, the Government had expressed willingnessto discuss issues such as enhancing refugee rightsand extending the possibility of third country reset-tlement to refugees in camps.Other important posi-tive developments included the migrant workerregistration exercise, which gave prospectivemigrants options outside the asylum system. Thenew-found willingness of the Thai Government toaddress difficult issues – including some that hadbeen shelved repeatedly over several years – wasexemplified by its interest in establishing a nationalstrategy to address statelessness.
Constraints
In order to operate in the absence of definitive legalstandards, UNHCR was obliged throughout 2004 todirectly negotiate all aspects of its work relating toasylum-seekers and refugees. This led to delays indecision making, however, UNHCR successfullyintervened in a number of individual cases andadvocated a change in policy on Myanmar refugeesand asylum-seekers in particular.
Funding
UNHCR’s overall financial stability in 2004 had apositive effect on the operation in Thailand,enabling all planned activities to be carried out,despite a marked increase in expenses for the urbanrefugees.
Achievements and impact
Protection and solutions
One of UNHCR objectives in 2004 was to ensure theprotection of refugees from Myanmar in the camps,as well as recognized urban refugees, through theprovision of temporary asylum until a durable solu-tion could be found. At the request of the Government, UNHCR discon-tinued RSD procedures for urban Myanmar asylum-seekersexceptforastrictlylimitednumberofurgentcases. However, all new asylum-seekers wereallowed to register with UNHCR pending the forma-tion of a national admissions mechanism. By theend of 2004, some 6,500 new applications had beenreceived by UNHCR. The Government agreed tore-establish its national admissions mechanism, the
UNHCR Global Report 2004
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Persons of concern
Population Total in countryOf whom UNHCRassistedPer centfemalePer centunder 18
Myanmar (refugees) 118,800 - - -
Income and expenditure (USD)Annual programme budget
Revised budgetIncome fromcontributions
1
Other fundsavailable
2
Total fundsavailableTotal expenditure
7,627,942 1,950,590 5,649,303 7,599,893 7,599,893
1
Includes income from contributions restricted at the country level.
2
Includes allocations by UNHCR from unearmarked or broadly earmarked contributions, opening balance and adjustments.The above figures do not include costs at Headquarters.
- - -Myanmar (asylum-seekers)2,000
 
PABs which was defunct since 2001. The Thai Gov-ernment also agreed to expand the criteria foradmission – previously limited to persons “fleeing fighting” – to include persons “fleeing persecutionor for other reasons”.Throughout 2004, UNHCR also conducted RSD forthe urban non-Myanmar population, which con-sisted of 414 refugees and 693 asylum-seekers of 44different nationalities. The Office ensured that ade-quate protection and assistance were provided while resettlement opportunities were sought (as noother durable solution was available).Theyear2004wasasuccessintermsofthestrategicuse of resettlement as a durable solution in theoperation in Thailand. The applications of some4,800 urban Myanmar refugees were submitted forresettlement, and by the end of the year, 1,448 haddeparted. In addition, 15,000 Lao Hmong refugeesfrom Wat Tham Krabok were submitted for resettle-ment to the United States. The Office also success-fully brought in a wider range of actors, with morethan 12 countries participating in the resettlementeffort.UNHCRcontinued toadvocateforimprovedprotec-tion of the rights of Myanmar refugees in the bordercamps, including the removal of existing restrictionson freedom of movement and on the right to workoutside the camps. UNHCR negotiated permissionto conduct a re-registration exercise in the camps in2004 using the new Project PROFILE software. Thisprocess safeguards key population data which willbe useful in facilitating eventual durable solutionsandrecordsinformationonvulnerableindividualsas wellasthosewithprotectionconcernsinthecamps,thus enabling UNHCR to address their protectionand assistance needs more effectively.InsupportoftheHighCommissioner’sFiveCommit-ments to Refugee Women, UNHCR developed suc-cessful SGBV programmes, in consultation withpartner NGOs. These entailed the creation of formalprotocols in all refugee camps to rationalize thetreatment ofSGBVvictims and the coursesofactionavailable to responding organizations. UNHCR alsoimplemented individual registration of refugee women through the re-registration exercise. TheOffice actively advocated for more balanced femalerepresentation onthecampcommittees,notmerelyin terms of numbers, but also as a reflection of women’s opinions and participation in actualleadership roles. The selection of beneficiaries andthe distribution of sanitary napkins were entrustedto refugee women’s committees.
Activities and assistance
NGOs provided the bulk of assistance to Myanmarrefugees in the camps. UNHCR’s remit was to “fill inthe gaps”, i.e., to address unmet needs.
Community services:
Countering SGBV was a keyareaofconcernintherefugeecamps,withsustainedefforts to identify and catalogue instances of SGBV and introduce a coordinated response. Victimsreceived counselling and specialized assistance whileUNHCRfocusedonraisingawarenessamongstthe refugees in the camps and urban centres as apreventive measure. All female refugees above the age of pubertyreceived sanitary kits. Interventions also includedthe provision of psycho-social support for 2,230separated children in nine camps as well as regularmonitoring of their welfare and living conditions.Mine-risk education programmeswereconducted ineight camps, focusing on high risk individuals andcommunityleaders.Refugeeworkersweretrainedasrehabilitation technicians, carpenters and physicaltherapists; 172 mine victims received prostheticdevices.
Domestic needs/Household support:
Urban refu-gees who have no legal status, and are thereforeunable to seek employment, received a monthlycash allowance to meet the costs of accommoda-tion and food.
Education:
Over 44,300 children in nine camps were provided with school supplies. Almost 37,000children attending 58 schools in the seven Karencamps also benefited from a curriculum develop-mentproject,newtextbooksandteachertraining.Inaddition, over 540,000 children and 93,000 adultsenjoyed library services in six refugee camps andsurrounding villages. The libraries were transformedinto makeshift community centres for additionalactivities such as puppet shows, storytelling, song and dance aimed to preserve customs and tradi-tions. In seven camps, 857 refugees received voca-tional training on motorbike repair, tailoring,agriculture, and carpentry.
UNHCR Global Report 2004
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