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By Myo Min Aung Background of Nupho camp Nupho is also commonly spelt Noh Hpo", and means " small lake" in Karen.It located in Umphang District , Tak Province and distance from border:8 km and distance from Mae Sot: 232 kms and approximately 6 hours driving time and distance from Umphang: 68 km and approximately 1 hour driving time.Area is about 150 acres and populatoin is 14,000 and mostly ethnic Karen. History Nupho camp was set up in March 1997 after a major offensive during which the Burma Army took control of Duplaya District in Karen state.It was established to consolidate the existing refugee population of Meteroke and Baw Ner Hta camps(both were set up in 1992 and had populations of 4,595 and 2,078 respectively) and to house new arrivals fleeing from the current offensive. In late 1997, groups of new arrivals came into two areas outside the camp Ta Per Poo(2,221) and Nong Luag(771),where they slightly received food and medical support from the NGOs before they were allowed to move into the cmap.In March 2005, approximately 800 persons of conerns from UNHCR from the Mae Sot area were transferred to the camp as part of the RTG's policy to relocate all POCs in urban areas to the border camp. After Burma election and RTG's role Thailand has for decades served as a shelter for Burmese opposition activists fleeing political,ethnic and religious persecution.Border camps in Thailand hold an estimated 140,000 Burmese, thousands of them are unregistered.Another two to three million Burmese have slipped into Thailand proper to escape a shattering economy at home; they have become employees of low‐cost labour for Thai businesses.
On the last year Burmese election day, Sunday November 7, 2010,armed opposition groups engaged in combined military opperatoins against the Burma Army forces in the border towns of Myawaddy and Three Pagoda's Pass resulting in their temporary occupation.As a result of the fighting, more than 10,000 persons found temporary shelter in Thai government‐designated locaton in Mae Sot district of Tak Province,nearly 4,000 in Phop Phra district 60 Km south of Mae Sot and a further 3,000 in Umphang district of Tak province.Thousands more are thought to have sought safety in Thailand in other border areas. Land confiscation and extortion are more widespread impacts of the Burma Army's so called" self‐reliance" policy.The junta has announced that if ceasefire groups do not respond regarding the agreement or disagreement on the BGF program,while building good relations with Burma, Thailand's officials should not concentrate only one the economic benefits.Thailand should also see the root cause of Burma's domestic war which produced refugee along the border. DKBA and Burma Army Thousands of people from Burma have fled the ongoing fighting between Burma army and Demoractic Karen Buddhist Army(DKBA) into hiding in the jungle or cross the Thai border as refugees since last year November.Even more lack this tenuous security, eking out an existence in the mountains and jungle, trying to avoid Burmese army patrols.Ethnic cleansing is a strong term, through recently a Burmese general boasted that soon the museum will be the only place you will find a karen. In Nupho camp, some of Karen refugees are still waiting to emigrate to a western nation, some hope to return to their villages in a peaceful Burma, but with the brutal determination of a dictatorship that spends almost half of its budgets on the military, this may not happen any time soon. Thailand refugees policy is misleading Thailand's policy of keeping refugees from Burmese in nine camps including our Nupho refugee camps along the border has caused untold suffering and shows that government does not know how to handle refugees.This was particularly the case for 60,000 refugees not registered by Thai government. Most Thai were not aware that 140,000 refugees had been kept in camps along the border for 26 years, and that Thai army had recently stopped distributing food to hte unregistered refugees including Nupho refugee camp since in 2006, and had tried to force them back to their home country . In Tak province, Nupho refugee camp, the governor wanted to
conduct a head count of refugees in the camps in order to evict unregistered refugees.This is not a good trend. We all refugees want to urge Thais to be more sympathetic to refugees, when the Thai media talks about refugees talk about problem and not about ways to treat refugees better.We want to reveal that what happens inside the camp, you don't know. Thai attitudes towards people from Burma were shaped by school education, which still treats Burma as the national enemy.Many Thais also failed to make a distinction between migrant workers and refugees. Thais believe in that‐‐‐ Burma had a real election last fall to repatriate these refugees most of whom will return against their will. Though the election last year may improve the quality of government in Burma marginally, it was hardly a free or fair poll,or suggestive of the kind of dramatic change on human rights that would make it safe to return refugees.There are other reasons for Thailand's suddenly harder line.Leading Thai company Ital‐Thailand is in the process of making the largest ‐ever Thai investment in Dawei Deep Sea Port in Burma, at over $ 13 billion. And overall, the Thai government has tried to foster rapprochement with its neighbor.Too bad that many refugees are going to be treated as a pawn in this relationship. Nupho refugees camp in Tak Province and Province governor's attitude towards refugeees The governor of Thailand's Tak province, Samart Loifah , said it is time to consider repatriating voluntarily the Burmese refugees along the Thai‐Burma border.Tak province hosts thousands of Burmese refugees and many more migrant live and work in the provinve's main town, Mae Sot. Burma's notorious military junta officially transferred power to a new civilian government on March 30 this year led by ex‐ Gen Then Sein who is the chairman of the junta;s proxy party,the Union Solidarity and Development party.Tak governor, Loifah said Burma is no longer violent, and we should start considering asking refugees to return voluntarily.He also urged international donors to reduce funding to the refugees camps to encourage people to leave Thailand, said the report. Loifah reportedly said he would be happy to work with EU and UNHCR if they began decreasing funding on their assistance to the camps to persuade Burmese citizen to leave Thailand.As well as, Tak governor has rejected international requests that Thailand restart an abandoned screening process to determine which persons are genuine refugees, as opposed to economic migrants. In Nupho refugees camp, most of the camp residents came from strife‐torn villages in eastern Burma, which has still been plaguing refugees that a decades‐old conflict between the military
and ethnic minority rebels seeking greater autonomy.Vast numbers fled to escape the junta's counter‐insurgency campaign,destroying villages and forcing them to work for army.Cases of rape, torture and execution. Refugee life Refugees life can be harsh, refugees cannot work or leave the camps, which , at present, are run with the aid of international agencies.Rising food prices may prompt the Thailand Burma Border Consortium(TBBC) an umbrella group of 12 humanitarian organization with more than 140,000 Burmese refugees in Thailand, to cut rice rations by up to 20 percent.Additional cuts will be made to salts, sugar,oil and chili rations.Higher exchange rates and increased prices of foodstuff have made situation more difficult to buy food, that a staple of the Burmese diet, the rice rations will remain the same for vulnerable groups, including children under the age of five, pregnant and lactating women , and the ill.Helpless inhabitants are still sheltered, and TBBC plans to carry out annual nutrition surveys to screen the health situation.Thailand currently hosts 96,800 refugees from Burma who have been registered , and an estimated 53,000 who have not, and are living in nine government‐run camps aong the 1,400 km Thai‐Burma border.The Burmese refugees continue to face numerous problem: unemployment for adults and young people, education for children, health care and the general difficulty of creating a new life, looking to the future. Refugees in Nupho camp Many colorful refugees are in Nupho camp, mostly karen 84%, they entered into camp due to fighting and Burma 11%, they reached into camp for higher ambition to resettle to third country for better life than Burma. And a little bit of Burman refugees are former political prisoner, student activist , ex‐ABSDF, others defectors from Burma government.Other ethnic 5% , have many relative in third country, some refugees in Nupho camp are strongly standing with pack of money by sending back from their relative in third country,As the nominal refugees, some rich people sold their properties and belongings from Burma and then came into for going to resettle to western nation and Europe countries as sham refugees, now this peoples living in as tycoon refugees and handling small scale business and gambling jobs like inside of Burma, doing two‐digit lottery from Bangkok stock exchange the least two‐digit number, they have to bribe with local camp commander and officials.Thailand refugee policy is slack, in this place, UNHCR's roles was still neglected by Thai government for directly monitoring refugees in camp because Thailand is not a party to the 1951 convection relating to the status of refugee or its 1967
protocol,but it is a member of the inter‐government executive commission for refugee(UNHCR excom).Therefore, due to the consequential role in camp, refugees are still abandoned screening press to determine to be a genuine refugees.Many refugees have been facing a serious lack the few batteries in the camp.Real refugees in Nupho camp are suffering severe food storage due to little supported by Thai‐Burma border consortium. Our most difficult time is when we hear that Burma sham president's army are going to attack our camp.We always prepare ourselves not to fight back , but to run into the deep jungle.Until today, we haven't come across such attack yet but we hear the terrible sounds of motors falling in out surrounding and see some villagers fleeing here and there.In addition, we hear almost everyday that the Thai government will send us all back to Burma.We are really downhearted and depressed by haring this stay in the camp, the weaker we become psychologically,mentally and physically.There are so much to say about what a refugee life is all about.As for us ,a refugee life is a life that is full of fear and uncertainty.The Nupho refugees also express their grave concern for their future of their children.We all refugees are continuously calling for prompt action that Thailand to stop treating refugees fleeing conflict in eastern Burma as human ping pong balls.
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