The first voluntary returns of Myanmar refugees from Thailand
The first voluntary returns of Myanmar refugees from Thailand took place this week, an initiative that was being supported by the governments of the two countries. An initial number of 71 refugees had wished to return home as part of the first pilot group, which is hoped to mark the beginning of a process of returns that might eventually resolve one of Asia’s longest-running refugee situations.
The first returns took place on 25 and 26 October. A family of six refugees from the Tham Hin camp in Thailand’s western province of Ratchaburi and 65 refugees from Nupo camp, further north in Tak province, left for destinations to Myanmar, including in Yangon, Kayin and Bago states.
UNHCR has been providing refugees with information on the conditions at their return destinations. Our staff have also been counselling people to ensure that returns are properly based on informed decisions. Repatriation transport and cash assistance was coordinated between the two governments, UNHCR and several partners. Further reintegration assistance was provided by the Myanmar authorities, UNHCR and other agencies on the ground.
As the peace process continues in Myanmar, this week’s returns are anticipated to grow further interest in repatriation among other refugees.