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MYANMAR REFUGEES IN THAILAND LIVING IN FEAR OF BEING DEPORTED


MAE LA CAMP, Thailand - Beyond the perimeter fence and security checkpoints, designed to keep the residents in and unwanted visitors out, tens of thousands of refugees from war-torn eastern Myanmar are living in fear of being sent home.
However, Thailand's announcement in April that it wants to close nine border camps, holding more than 140,000 displaced people, has sent ripples of anxiety through the traumatised communities after a more than two-decade presence.
  • 'We're scared to go back,' said Suai Pu, 27, who fled Myanmar six years ago with his wife and son and lives in the biggest camp, Mae La, home to about 46,000 people packed into around four square kilometres.
  • 'People are so worried. They are praying. They cannot sleep,' he said. 'We don't have a home. We don't have land. If we go back, what can we do?' According to the Thailand Burma Border Consortium, a group of international non-governmental organisations operating along the border, as of March the camps held about 143,000 refugees from Myanmar, also known as Burma.
Most are Karen, whose eastern state is the scene of one of the world's longest-running civil wars, stretching back six decades. Others include minority Chin, Mon and long-suffering Rohingya, as well as majority Burmans.
Source: Agency, AFP
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