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Home > Main Library > Refugees > Proposed return of Burmese asylum-seekers from Thailand to Burma

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Proposed return of Burmese asylum-seekers from Thailand to Burma
See also Refoulement, push-backs and rejection at borders

Websites/Multiple Documents

Title: Non-refoulement
Description/subject: Non-refoulement is a principle of the international law, i.e. of customary and trucial Law of Nations which forbids the rendering a true victim of persecution to their persecutor; persecutor generally referring to a state-actor (country/government). Non-refoulement is a key facet of refugee law, that concerns the protection of refugees from being returned to places where their lives or freedoms could be threatened. Unlike political asylum, which applies to those who can prove a well-grounded fear of persecution based on membership in a social group or class of persons, non-refoulement refers to the generic repatriation of people, generally refugees into war zones and other disaster areas. Non-refoulement is a jus cogens (peremptory norm) of international law that forbids the expulsion of a refugee into an area, usually their home-country, where the person might be again subjected to persecution.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Wikipedia
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 23 August 2012


Individual Documents

Title: Karen Refugee Committee Criticizes Refugee Repatriation Process
Date of publication: 15 November 2016
Description/subject: "The Karen Refugee Committee (KRC), a community-based organization that has been facilitating the needs of Burmese refugees in Thailand, has said that they feel they were neglected in decision-making processes and were not invited to cooperate in recent refugee repatriation efforts. On October 25, the Thai government and the UN refugee agency, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), repatriated a reported 71 Burmese refugees to Karen State, Mon State, and Tenassarim and Rangoon divisions. Some refugees have since reported that they are unhappy with the circumstances of the return—they report having been asked to buy into low-income housing, a cost for which they were not prepared. Sources close to the refugees have also reported that some of unhappy returnees are trying to come back to the refugee camps in Thailand. Two families have reportedly returned to Nu Po camp on Thai-Burma border, said the sources..."
Author/creator: Saw Yan Naing
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Refugee Committee (KRC) via "The Irrawaddy"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 16 November 2016


Title: Refugees rue return amid housing woes
Date of publication: 02 November 2016
Description/subject: "Myanmar refugees repatriated from Thailand last week say they already have regrets about their return following a disagreement with the government over the cost of their living quarters...Last week the government oversaw the repatriation of 71 refugees from Thai border camps in the first official transfer organised by the two neighbouring countries since the mostly Karenni civilians began fleeing armed conflict in the 1990s. But the 17 refugees who were sent to Yangon told The Myanmar Times yesterday that their homecoming has not been a happy one so far. The regional government has arranged housing for the 17, as promised, but has told the four families they will have to purchase units in a low-cost apartment complex on the outskirts of the commercial capital. Daw Khin San Yi, 59, a former political prisoner and refugee who returned from Nu Po camp in Tak province, told The Myanmar Times that the regional government must re-evaluate the refugees’ housing situation. “We lived with difficulties in Thailand. We are not rich people and we have no money to pay for low-cost housing. I don’t understand why the government arranged that,” she said..."
Author/creator: Ye Mon
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Myanmar Times"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 02 November 2016


Title: Kayin refugees returning to Myanmar
Date of publication: 27 October 2016
Description/subject: The celebrated repatriation of dozens of refugees to Myanmar was not without a hiccup this week as 25 of the 96 individuals in Thailand who were expected to return backed out last minute, according to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement...Six Myanmar nationals from the Tham Hin refugee camp in Thailand’s Ratchaburi province returned through the Htee Khee border gate in Tanintharyi Region on October 25, and 65 refugees of the Nu Po camp in Tak province returned through the Myawady border gate yesterday..."
Author/creator: Ye Mon
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Myanmar Times"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 02 November 2016


Title: Thai PM Supports Delayed Burmese Refugee Return
Date of publication: 24 June 2016
Description/subject: "Burma should be given more time to prepare to take back refugees, said Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, a former commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army. Speaking ahead of Burma’s State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s three-day visit to Thailand, which began on Thursday, Gen Prayut said talks between Thailand and Burma over refugee matters began during the previous administration and the government believes that, when Burma is ready, it will take the refugees back. “[Burma] is willing to take back the refugees but we have to give them more time to prepare for such considerations as securing land to accommodate those who return. We understand each other,” the Thai prime minister said. There are currently about 100,000 Burmese refugees in nine camps and shelters in Thailand, he said..."
Author/creator: Wasssana Nanuam
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Bangkok Post" via "The Irrawaddy"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 25 June 2016


Title: More Refugees Expected to Return From Thailand Next Year
Date of publication: 01 June 2016
Description/subject: "More individual and large-scale returns of Burmese refugees from Thailand are expected during the dry season next year, according to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that provide assistance to more than 120,000 refugees on the Thai-Burma border. In its report released Tuesday, the UN’s refugee agency, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said a growing number of refugees in Thailand’s camps were seeking support to return and rebuild their lives back home because they were encouraged by the prospects of the peace process, social and democratic reforms and the new civilian government. The report said that several hundred Burmese refugees from nine camps along on the Thai-Burma border have approached the UNHCR in recent months seeking support to return home. In response, the UNHCR dispatched a team to conduct voluntary repatriation interviews in Nupo Camp in Thailand’s Tak province..."
Author/creator: Saw Yan Naing
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 01 June 2016


Title: Senior Thai Official Puts Burma’s Refugee Repatriation Back on the Agenda – Refugees Concerned About Cuts To Rations and Essential Services
Date of publication: 02 May 2016
Description/subject: "Refugees responded to a senior Tak Province official speaking about the repatriation of the more than 100,000 refugees from Burma living in camps along the Thai-Burmese border by claiming that withdrawal of support by international donors is their immediate concern..."
Author/creator: S'Phan Shaung
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Karen News"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 02 May 2016


Title: KNU Prepares Land For Future IDP and Refugee Repatriation |
Date of publication: 07 April 2016
Description/subject: "Burma’s long-established ethnic Karen armed organization, the Karen National Union (KNU), has been preparing land and shelter for the possible return of civilians displaced internally and on the Thai-Burma border after more than six decades of civil war with government forces. The plan is underway in areas controlled by the KNU in southern and eastern Karen State, such as Kyainseikgyi Township and Hpa-an District, according to sources from the group..."
Author/creator: Saw Yan Naing
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 16 April 2016


Title: No Quick Return for Border Refugees Despite High Hopes for NLD Era
Date of publication: 15 February 2016
Description/subject: "The repatriation of some 120,000 refugees along the Thai-Burma border was discussed during a meeting of stakeholders last week, but an official from the United Nations’ refugee agency insists there remains no firm timetable on a large-scale return of the displaced despite talks on the matter between Burma’s new government and its Thai counterpart. “The main focus of the meeting was on refugee registration and resettlement [to third-party countries], which is winding down after 11 years. The subject of voluntary return was not on the agenda but was prompted by a question,” said Vivian Tan, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Bangkok. Karen Refugee Committee (KRC) spokesperson Naw Blooming Night Zar confirmed that the April 27 meeting, which included officials from both governments, NGOs and representatives of the UNHCR and from refugee camps, did not focus on repatriation of those living in nine camps on the border..."
Author/creator: Saw Yan Naing
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 05 May 2016


Title: I believe this survey is designed to reflect what they want
Date of publication: 17 June 2015
Description/subject: "In an interview with Burma Link, the refugee who led the petition signed by over 3,600 refugees in Mae La camp explains how he feels about the profiling survey and why he organised a campaign to have the survey modified and re-authored with refugees’ participation and approval. He also details the hurdles they faced when campaigning against camp authorities’ will, and shares his thoughts about life being confined to a refugee camp in Thailand. The survey is set to begin today, June 17th, in Mae La camp."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Link
Format/size: pdf
Date of entry/update: 22 March 2016


Title: Voices of Refugees: Situation of Burma’s Refugees Along the Thailand - Burma Border
Date of publication: 15 April 2015
Description/subject: "...There is a rising concern within the refugee community that the situation on the ground indicates a direction towards premature repatriation. This is despite ongoing calls from civil society groups, community based organizations and international human rights organizations that timing is still not right for refugee return and that preparations should include a wide range of consultations with and participation of diverse refugee communities and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) working closely with their community..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Partnership
Format/size: pdf (489K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmapartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/27.04.05-Voices-of-Refugees-Along-Thaila...
Date of entry/update: 10 May 2015


Title: STRATEGIC ROADMAP FOR VOLUNTARY REPATRIATION - Refugees from Myanmar in Thailand 2015-2017 (Burmese မန္မာဘာသာ)
Date of publication: March 2015
Description/subject: "...While UNHCR's position remains that it is still too early for organized voluntary repatriation to be initiated, the situation will likely continue to evolve in the year ahead. Both the RTG [Royal Thai Government] and the GOUM [Government of the Union of Myanmar] have recently reiterated their commitment to supporting the eventual voluntary repatriation of refugees, in line with international standards and humanitarian principles. In view of the evolving situation and the need to support refugees, communities and relevant authorities, this roadmap document outlines UNHCR's key strategic directions for voluntary repatriation from Thailand during the period 2015-2017. It also offers a framework to interface between refugee repatriation and a response to the needs of returning IDPs in the same areas of South-East Myanmar. The document will serve as a basis for further engagement with various stakeholders, including refugees, communities, the GOUM, the RTG, NSAs [Non-State Actors], UN agencies, NGO, community-based organization (CBO) and civil society organization (CSO) partners..."
Language: Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Source/publisher: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Format/size: pdf (256K)
Date of entry/update: 11 November 2015


Title: STRATEGIC ROADMAP FOR VOLUNTARY REPATRIATION - Refugees from Myanmar in Thailand 2015-2017 (English
Date of publication: March 2015
Description/subject: "...While UNHCR's position remains that it is still too early for organized voluntary repatriation to be initiated, the situation will likely continue to evolve in the year ahead. Both the RTG [Royal Thai Government] and the GOUM [Government of the Union of Myanmar] have recently reiterated their commitment to supporting the eventual voluntary repatriation of refugees, in line with international standards and humanitarian principles. In view of the evolving situation and the need to support refugees, communities and relevant authorities, this roadmap document outlines UNHCR's key strategic directions for voluntary repatriation from Thailand during the period 2015-2017. It also offers a framework to interface between refugee repatriation and a response to the needs of returning IDPs in the same areas of South-East Myanmar. The document will serve as a basis for further engagement with various stakeholders, including refugees, communities, the GOUM, the RTG, NSAs [Non-State Actors], UN agencies, NGO, community-based organization (CBO) and civil society organization (CSO) partners..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: United Nations High Commissioner for Regugees (UNHCR)
Format/size: pdf (90K)
Date of entry/update: 11 November 2015


Title: Refugee decision-making processes, community-based protection and potential voluntary repatriation to Myanmar
Date of publication: January 2015
Description/subject: Key Findings and Conclusions: * Refugees deem the achievement of a deep peace, including guarantees for human security, and freedom from exploitation by armed actors as the primary requisite to repatriation. * The ability for refugees to pursue durable solutions to displacement them selves, voluntarily and in safety and dignity, is severely restricted by lack of knowledge regarding their circumstances - and refugee status - and the reasons their future situation may not be sustainable if the initial reasons for their seeking refuge an d international protection cease to exist. * Refugee leaders and CBOs are well placed to inform refugees of their evolving situation and options in a locally appropriate manner. * Refugee leaders and CBOs have an influential role in the refugee society, and are depended on by many of the refugees. This represents a core capacity for community - based protection that international actors should support. * Decision making will be a highly protracted process for all refugees as migration choices have been in these communities for decades if not centuries. * An internationally verified peace settlement and/or a tripartite agreement on repatriation would heavily influence the independent decisions of many refugees. * Communities are already communicating with or visiting their communities of origin and would benefit from support for such activities, as they get closer to considering repatriation. * Respected community - level administration structures from the refugee camps could be enhanced in the context of repatriation reintegration for protection aims, including negotiations with armed actors and government...In 2011 and 2012 the Government of the Union of Myanmar (GoUM) signed ceasefires with the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and the Karen National Union (KNU). While the security environment remains extremely fragile, this has opened opportunities for a minority of the more then 100,000 Karen refugees in Thailand to make tentative efforts to return home. Perhaps more influentially, refugees now face new pressures and opportunities to due to policies and actions of influential political actors, such as international aid donors, the KNU, the GoUM, and the Royal Thai Government (RTG). The ceasefires remain fragile and there are many hurdles to overcome before a secure, lasting settlement can be achieved. The region is heavily militarised, severely lacks rule of law or other national protection mechanisms. With over 100 Tatmadaw (Myanmar Armed Forces) army battalions positioned in and close to civilian settlements throughout the region, and multiple other armed actors competing for influence and resources, communities remain subject to extensive arbitrary taxes, forced labour and other extractive demands. Further, there remain significant restrictions on humanitarian access for UN agencies and other actors – to many parts of Myanmar, including some of the refugees’ places of origin. UNHCR is not promoting or encouraging repatriation at this time, and has maintained its assessment since 2012 that much ‘yet needs to be done in Myanmar -­‐ particularly in the places of origin -­‐ before the promotion and facilitation of voluntary repatriation could commence. However, these preliminary agreements have brought significant reductions to incidences of armed conflict, and a complete halt to the previously widespread destruction of civilian settlements by the Tatmadaw. Despite many remaining hurdles, if broader political and economic reforms under the 2011-­‐inaugurated government continue, there is potential for the region to achieve lasting peace. This presents limited potential for a durable solution for the Karen refugees residing in temporary settlements in Thailand to emerge. 3 Slowly but surely, an increasing portion of refugees that still have land or communities to return to are making tentative moves towards repatriation. However, while UNHCR has monitored the return of refugees -­‐ and the agency has been told by the refugee camp committees that up to 10,000 may have returned during the past three years -­‐ it is unlikely that many constitute entire families making permanent moves home, as will be discussed in later sections..."
Author/creator: Kim Jolliffe, Thoowa W achisukhonwana (research assistant)
Language: English
Format/size: pdf (512K-reduced version; 1.42MB-original)
Alternate URLs: http://research.kim/works/refugee-decision-making-processes-community-based-protection-and-potentia...
Date of entry/update: 11 March 2015


Title: FRAMEWORK FOR VOLUNTARY REPATRIATION - Refugees from Myanmar in Thailand
Date of publication: May 2014
Description/subject: May 2014 - (A revision of the October 2012 UNHCR Thailand discussion document)....."A ‘Framework for Voluntary Repatriation’ (VolRep) and - at an appropriate time - a ‘Voluntary Repatriation Operations Plan’ are necessary steps by UNHCR in partnership with concerned stakeholders including the governments of Thailand and Myanmar. This Framework advocates for the adherence to international standards and core protection principles as it concerns the return of refugees, whereas the Operations Plan will support the various operational aspects and inherent procedures of an organized repatriation at a time when UNHCR is able to “promote” refugee returns. That may only come about as a result of a positive assessment of the situation in southeast Myanmar that would be viewed as overall conducive to the refugees’ voluntary return and their sustainable reintegration back home. As a foremost priority, UNHCR will be looking to ensure that all necessary safeguards are in place for people to return voluntarily, in safety and with dignity. It will be important that any voluntary return is organized accordingly so as to ensure the full protection of refugees, asylum-seekers, and others of concern to UNHCR. This Framework for Voluntary Repatriation therefore sets out the protection principles and standards that must be upheld and it highlights the main protection and assistance aspects of an organized repatriation operation for refugees living in the nine Temporary Shelters (refugee camps) in Thailand..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Format/size: pdf (397K)
Date of entry/update: 12 March 2015


Title: Ceasefires and Durable Solutions in Myanmar: a lessons learned review.....Commentary: IDPs and refugees in the current Myanmar peace process
Date of publication: March 2014
Description/subject: "Over six decades of ethnic conflict in Myanmar have generated displacement crises just as long. At the time of writing there are an estimated 640,747 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Myanmar, and 415,373 refugees originating from the country.However, these figures are not fully indicative of levels of forced migration, as obtaining reliable data for IDPs remains difficult, while millions of regular and irregular migrants have also left the country, often fleeing similar conditions to those faced by documented refugees and IDPs. Since a new government came into power in 2011, it has managed to secure fresh ceasefire agreements with the majority of the country’s ethnonationalist armed groups (EAGs), potentially inching one step closer to a lasting solution for the country’s hundreds of thousands of refugees and IDPs. As the possibility for voluntary return and resettlement of displaced people opens up, there is a lot to learn from a look back at past ceasefire periods in Myanmar where movements of such populations have taken place. Focusing on the cases of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) ceasefire in 1994, and the New Mon State Party (NMSP) ceasefire in 1995, which had very different impacts on the displaced populations affected, this paper aims to provide lessons for the current transition..." Jolliffe)....."This commentary reflects on some key findings emerging from Kim Jolliffe’s paper on lessons learned from previous ceasefire agreements in Myanmar, and examines how issues relating to refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been addressed in the current ceasefires and emerging peace process in Myanmar. The main focus of both papers are the Kachin situation (past and present), a case study of historic forced migration and attempted solutions in Mon areas, and the current situation in Karen areas. Comprehensive treatment of these issues would have to take into account (inter alia) the contexts in western Myanmar, and Shan and Karenni/Kayah areas..." (South)
Author/creator: Kim Jolliffe (paper); Ashley South (Commentary)
Language: English
Source/publisher: United Nations - Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Format/size: pdf (915K-reduced version; 1.18MB-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/opendocPDFViewer.html?docid=533927c39&query=%22New%20is...
Date of entry/update: 13 October 2014


Title: Non-Refoulement, Temporary Refuge, and the 'New' Asylum Seekers
Date of publication: 2014
Description/subject: Conclusion: "Like the prohibition of torture, temporary refuge has a special value, a moral quality which distinguishes it from other rul~s of international law, such as those governing the delimitation of maritime boundaries. Less importance can therefore be ascribed to instances of contrary practice, because to recognise exceptions, to allow or approve return to the real risk of danger to life and liberty, would shock the conscience of mankind or, to use the words of the International Court of Justice, be contrary to 'elementary considerations ofhumanity'.104 To start, as it were, with the value, with the statement of principle before the practice, might be thought utopian, divorced from reality, even 'wishful legal thinking'.105 Nevertheless, having once accurately identified the obligations in issue admission and non-return - we can see how strong is the evidence of both practice and opinio juris. The practice has been occasionally undervalued and misrepresented, with the principle of admission and non-return of those displaced by conflict being theorised from within the box, which is the more or less closed system called 'Convention refugee law'. It has been too readily associated with, and then limited by; the established principle of non-refoulement, and it has suffered from the link; it has been wrongly presented as a norm about immigration, and dismissed for the lack of any corresponding individual or civil right. Individual rights are certainly of critical importance as a basis for challenging governmental action, but they do not always or automatically follow on from the existence of the rules or principles of international law; they commonly need to be mediated into domestic legal systems, either directly through express incorporation, or indirectly, through judicial processes of interpretation and application. For Perluss and Hartman in ig86, the obligation not to return those displaced by armed conflict was conceptually distinct from refugee law and from international humanitarian law. The object and purpose of temporary refuge, in their scheme of analysis, was general protection against the risk of relevant harm, irrespective of the style or type of armed conflict; and, in their view, it ought not to be subsumed within the principle of non-refoulement, even if, from time to time it might cover the same ground and benefit some of the same individuals. Today, the core obligations of the principle of temporary refuge are firmly rooted in customary international law, they operate across a broader spectrum than non-refoulement, and are closely integrated into the international refugee regime. For understandable reasons, its impact on issues of admission and nonreturn means that it continues to be associated with the principle of nonrefoulement. This can be advantageous, so far as non-refoulement acts as a powerful brake on the State, but it can also be a drawback. A good case can be made for de-linking the concepts of refuge and non-refoulement, and in developing refuge itself as the overarching principle of protection, sufficient to accommodate all those instances where States are obliged to act or refrain from action in order that individuals or groups are not exposed to the risk of certain harms. This is not a recipe for proactive intervention, or a variation on the responsibility to protect, and neither are the duties subsumed within the principle of refuge necessarily always absolute or unqualified; in each case, it has to be determined exactly what the particular obligation requires. Of course, temporary refuge, as described above, is not a complete answer to the problems of forced displacement, any more than the Refugee Convention is a complete answer to the protection needs of those in fear of persecution. But it is a critical normative first step in the effective international protection of those displaced by armed conflict, massive violations of human rights, or indiscriminate violence; and it is firmly and soundly based in customary international law, in the practice of States, and in their understanding of obligation."
Author/creator: Guy S. Goodwin-Gill
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Refuge from Inhumanity? War Refugees and International Humanitarian Law" Edited by David James Cantor and Jean-Francois Durieux
Format/size: pdf (681K)
Date of entry/update: 18 May 2015


Title: Bridging the HLP Gap - The Need to Effectively Address Housing, Land and Property Rights During Peace Negotiations and in the Context of Refugee/IDP Return
Date of publication: 02 June 2013
Description/subject: Bridging the HLP Gap - The Need to Effectively Address Housing, Land and Property Rights During Peace Negotiations and in the Context of Refugee/IDP Return: Preliminary Recommendations to the Government of Myanmar, Ethnic Actors and the International Community.....Executive Summary: "Of the many challenging issues that will require resolution within the peace processes currently underway between the government of Myanmar and various ethnic groups in the country, few will be as complex, sensitive and yet vital than the issues comprising housing, land and property (HLP) rights. Viewed in terms of the rights of the sizable internally displaced person (IDP) and refugee populations who will be affected by the eventual peace agreements, and within the broader political reform process, HLP rights will need to form a key part of all of the ongoing moves to secure a sustainable peace, and be a key ingredient within all activities dedicated to ending displacement in Myanmar today. The Government Myanmar (including the military) and its various ethnic negotiating partners – just as with all countries that have undergone deep political transition in recent decades, including those emerging from lengthy conflicts – need to fully appreciate and comprehend the nature and scale of the HLP issues that have emerged in past decades, how these have affected and continue to affect the rights and perspectives of justice of those concerned, and the measures that will be required to remedy HLP concerns in a fair and equitable manner that strengthens the foundations for permanent peace. Resolving forced displacement and the arbitrary acquisition and occupation of land, addressing the HLP and other human rights of returning refugees and IDPs in areas of return, ensuring livelihood and other economic opportunities and a range of other measures will be required if return is be sustainable and imbued with a sense of justice. There is an acute awareness among all of those involved in the ongoing peace processes of the centrality of HLP issues within the context of sustainable peace, however, all too little progress has thus far been made to address these issues in any detail, nor have practical plans commenced to resolve ongoing displacement of either refugees or IDPs. Indeed, the negotiating positions of both sides on key HLP issues differ sharply and will need to be bridged; many difficult decisions remain to be made..."
Author/creator: Scott Leckie
Language: English
Source/publisher: Displacement Solutions
Format/size: pdf (1.6MB)
Alternate URLs: http://displacementsolutions.org
http://displacementsolutions.org/landmark-report-launch-bridging-the-housing-land-and-property-gap-in-myanmar/
Date of entry/update: 17 June 2013


Title: Supporting Durable Solutions in South-­East Myanmar - A framework for UNHCR engagement
Date of publication: June 2013
Description/subject: "...This Discussion Paper seeks to articulate a broad framework which should guide UNHCR’s engagement in the South-­‐East in 2013-­‐2015, and in particular, to define the parameters of UNHCR’s role in supporting: i. durable solutions for IDPs; and ii. the sustainable reintegration of returning refugees. It builds upon a separate discussion paper dated 1 October 2012, which sets out a framework for voluntary repatriation for Myanmar refugees from Thailand. The papers should form the basis of a more detailed operational strategy for 2013-­‐2015, and should also serve as the first step towards a consultative multi-­‐stakeholder process, engaging Government, civil society, UN and NGO partners, donors and refugees and IDPs themselves, to elaborate a shared vision and strategy for support to durable solutions in the South-­‐East. The document outlines UNHCR’s general principles and standards as well as context-­‐specific objectives and activities..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Format/size: pdf (172K)
Date of entry/update: 12 March 2015


Title: Karen Refugees Committee’s 10 points to repatriation
Date of publication: 26 March 2013
Description/subject: The KRC’s statement said that 10 key points had to be met in order for a repatriation process to be put in place that did not undermine the lives of refugees: (1) Nationwide ceasefire should be observed, (2) There should be sustainable peace and political conflicts should be settled, (3) Provision of universal human rights must be respected, (4) Relocated areas should be freed from land mines and security should be given a priority, (5) The relocated areas should be suitable for one to support their livelihood; favourable land should be provided adequately for one family, (6) Health certificates, education certificates received should be recognised by the government, (7) We will not tolerate force repatriation; it should be one’s own decision or voluntary return, (8) Adequate preparation should be given to return, (9) Right should be given to the Committee concerned regarding repatriation and allow them to inspect location and collect necessary information, (10) The repatriation can only take place when the concerned organisations, KRC, INGOs, NGOs, UNHCR, and CBOs agree that there is a genuine peace in Burma
Language: English
Source/publisher: KRC via KIC via BNI
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 27 March 2013


Title: Position on the Repatriation of Refugees from Burma
Date of publication: 12 December 2012
Description/subject: "After the Karenni Refugee Committee (KnRC) organized three workshops on September 20-21st, November 9th and October 8-10th, attended by representatives of KnRC, Karenni community based organizations and religious leaders, the groups agreed on a common position paper on refugees’ repatriation as follow. Although the situation in Burma has improved and democratic reforms have taken place in the last year and a half, the changes seem to be reversible. There is no political stability due to ongoing conflict in some ethnic areas, no rule of law, no security for refugee returnees, and more importantly, a genuine peace hasn’t been established in the country. Thus, it is obvious that this is not the time for the refugees to return yet. The repatriation of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) must be in line with international principle; the return must be voluntary in “conditions of safety and dignity.” Before the refugees return to Burma, the following pre-conditions must be in place:..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karenni Refugee Committee and Karenni Community Based Organizations
Format/size: pdf (438K)
Date of entry/update: 17 December 2012


Title: The Situation of Refugees on the Thai-Burma Border
Date of publication: 11 December 2012
Description/subject: "Since the initiation of President Thein Sein’s limited reforms in Burma and the signature of preliminary ceasefires agreements with some of the ethnic armed groups, the issue of refugee return is becoming increasingly prominent. According to The Border Consortium (formerly the Thailand Burma Border Consortium) there are approximately 160,000 refugees on the Thai-Burma border. The governments of Thailand and Burma have made no illusions as to their aims: to repatriate the refugees as soon as possible. Donors and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have already started preparing refugees’ return while community-based organizations (CBOs) that constitute and represent refugees are trying to bring the refugees’ voices to the decision makers. The refugees themselves are suffering from a lack of information and clarity as to their own future and as such, tension and anxiety have been building in the refugee camps..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Partnership
Format/size: pdf (138K-OBL version; 700K-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmapartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Refugee-Background-Paper.pdf
Date of entry/update: 17 December 2012


Title: Nothing About Us Without Us - Refugees' Voices About Their Return to Burma (video)
Date of publication: 10 December 2012
Description/subject: A powerful video made up of interview clips, mainly with refugees, as well as UNHCR, TBC and other Thailand-based refugee and human rights organisations about the proposed repatriation of Burmese refugees in Thailand back to Burma. The film is especially critical of the lack of consultation by the UNHCR, Burmese and Thai Government with the refugees and community-based organisaations......"Burma Partnership is pleased to announce the launch of a short documentary entitled "Nothing About Us Without Us". The film highlights refugees' voices about repatriation from camps along the Thailand border back into Burma. Featuring interviews with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, leading academics, representatives from civil society organizations and the refugees themselves, the film shows the lack of information currently available to most refugees and outlines the necessity of including refugees in the decision-making and planning processes related to their return to Burma."
Author/creator: Timothy Syrota
Language: Adobe Flash (18 minutes, 40 seconds)
Source/publisher: Burma Partnership
Date of entry/update: 10 December 2012


Title: KRC ATTITUDE AND PERSPECTIVE TOWARDS REPATRIATION (English and Karen)
Date of publication: 03 October 2012
Description/subject: "After the transition from military government to civilian government in Burma, most of the people hope that a positive change could take place. If a genuine and realistic change indeed does take place, then another step in the repatriation process for the people to resettle to their own land would definitely follow. However, the arrangements of any refugee's return should comply according to the standard of international law. KRC, as the main supervisory body, represents 7 camps, approximately 150,000 refugees, and administers all the affairs of the camps’ management and programmes. Thus, KRC has the responsibility to take the lead on developing any plan for repatriation and for co-ordinating with organizations such as NGOs/INGOs and CBOs in this process. In this way, regarding the repatriation, KRC will stand for firstly, the choice of the individual refugee to make their own decision and secondly, the changes in Burma need to be legitimately recognized and recommended by the international communities. Therefore, under the management of KRC - EC, some conditions required as below have been laid down..."
Language: Englsh and Karen
Source/publisher: Karen Refugee Committee (KRC)
Format/size: pdf (99K)
Date of entry/update: 03 October 2012


Title: Karen Community-Based Organizations’ Position on Refugees’ Return to Burma
Date of publication: 11 September 2012
Description/subject: Today a grouping of Karen Community Based Organizations (KCBOs) released their collective position in response to recent news about the repatriation of refugees. The position paper outlines the pre‐conditions and processes necessary for a successful and voluntary return of refugees from several camps along the Thai‐Burma border, back to Karen areas. Repatriation without these pre‐conditions and processes will be against the will of the refugees and will not respect their right to return voluntarily in safety and with dignity. “We are encouraged by the changes in Burma but there are many improvements that would need to happen before refugees would be safe to return,” said Dah Eh Kler from the Karen Women’s Organization (KWO).“We fled the fighting and the abuse by the Burma Army. We know the ceasefires are still fragile and do not yet include an enforceable code of conduct; the troops are still all around our former villages, along with land mines and other dangers. We hope that we can go home one day soon, but it is just not possible under the current conditions in Karen areas. The position paper is a comprehensive view of what the Karen community needs in order to go home. It outlines several pre‐conditions that must be met before refugees return to Burma, including: achievement of a political settlement between ethnic armed groups and the Burma government, agreement on a nationwide ceasefire, guaranteed safety and security for the people, clearance of land‐mines, withdrawal of all Burma Army and militia troops, end of human rights violations, abolishment of all oppressive laws and resolution of land ownership issues. “We have learned from the UNHCR that the Burma government has already planned the locations to which refugees will be repatriated. KCBOs were very surprised to hear this as we and the refugees themselves have not been consulted properly on where, when and how they will be repatriated. Refugees have the right to make free choices on where, when and how they will return to their homeland,” said Ko Shwe from the Karen Environment and Social Action Network (KESAN). In order to make their own choices about their return, the KCBOs have outlined specific processes that must take place, including defining how consultations with refugees and affected communities must be conducted and how refugees and KCBOs must take part in the decision‐making process at all stages, including in preparation, implementation and post‐return phases. For the full list of pre‐conditions and necessary processes, please see the attached position paper......Burma, Karen, myanmar, refugee, repatriation, return, thailand
Language: English
Source/publisher: Women's League of Burma
Format/size: pdf (142K)
Date of entry/update: 12 September 2012


Title: Shan community groups: Don’t push refugees back into active war zone (Press release)
Date of publication: 27 August 2012
Description/subject: Shan community groups are gravely concerned about imminent repatriation of over 500 refugees from a camp on the northern Thai border into an area of active conflict.
Language: Burmese, English, Shan, Thai
Source/publisher: Shan groups via Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF)
Format/size: pdf (109K)
Alternate URLs: http://shanhumanrights.org/old_version/images/stories/Action_Update/Files/press%20release%20by%20sh...
Date of entry/update: 26 October 2015


Title: "Burma Issues" July - August 2012 Volume 25 Number 15/16 (Special issue on the threat of involuntary return of refugees from Thailand to Burma)
Date of publication: August 2012
Description/subject: The Repatriation Issue By Saw David... Looking Forward To “Living In My Village Without Any Fear” By Saw David... “Not Ready To Return” By Eh Klo Dah... “If They Have No Plan For This, Many Will Die Of Starvation” By Saw David... “I Dare Not To Go Back Home As Long As The Burmese Army Still Fortifies” By Eh Klo Dah... “Perhaps I will Run Away” By Saw David “Just Words, No Action Makes Us Distrustful” By Eh Klo Dah...By Saw David...News in Brief... Karen Women Organisation’s Opinion
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Burma Issues"/Peace Way Foundation
Format/size: pdf (612K)
Date of entry/update: 05 January 2013


Title: HM (Risk factors for Burmese citizens) Burma CG [2006] UKAIT 00012
Date of publication: 23 January 2006
Description/subject: Final result of the litigation in the United Kingdom on risks to Burmese asylum-seekers from the way in which they may be removed to Burma, including the experiences of Mr Stanley Van Tha. The decision of the UK's Asylum & Immigration Tribunal, issued on 23 January 2006.
Language: English
Source/publisher: UK Asylum and Immigration Tribunal
Format/size: pdf (97K), html (190K), Word
Alternate URLs: http://www.ait.gov.uk/Public/Upload/j1862/00012_ukait_2006_hm_burma_cg.doc
http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs3/00012_ukait_2006_hm_burma_cg-1.htm
Date of entry/update: 16 April 2006


Title: Non-Refoulement (Chapter 4 of "The Refugee in International Law")
Date of publication: 1996
Description/subject: "The principle of non-refoulement prescribes, broadly, that no refugee should be returned to any country where he or she is likely to face persecution or torture. In this chapter, the scope of the principle is examined against the background of a number of recurring issues: the question of ‘risk’; the personal scope of the principle, including its application to certain categories of asylum seekers such as stowaways or those arriving directly by boat; exceptions to the principle; extraterritorial application; extradition; and the ‘contingent’ application of the principle in situations of mass influx. The possible application of non-refoulement or an analogous principle of refuge to those outside the 1951 Convention/1967 Protocol is also considered, as is the relationship between non-refoulement and asylum. The analysis takes account of the increasing number of references to non- refoulement..." Extracted (with permission) from "The Refugee in International Law" by Guy S. Goodwin-Gill
Author/creator: Guy S. Goodwin-Gill
Language: English
Source/publisher: OUP
Format/size: pdf (327K) - 54 pages
Date of entry/update: 23 May 2015