UNHCR Thailand officer serves to protect Sudanese refugees
From the peaceful in Mae Hong Son to South Sudan, one of the most conflict areas, Mr. Kannavee Suebsang, Assistant Protection Officer of UNHCR Mae Hong Son served his best to protect lives of thousands of Sudanese refugees. Through the hazard, danger, challenges he said “this is my big challenge and rewarding experience”.
“I received an email asked me to be at South Sudan within 72 hours…not only that I knew South Sudan country only from TV on 9 July 2011 that it’s the newest independent country” he said after four days returning to his mother land. “When I was there I heard bombs all the time and refugees continuously fled to our shelter” UNHCR built a temporary shelter at Yida, South Sudan to support and provide protection to the influx.
It’s his dream to go to work in a real operation and join Emergency team (ERT) “Everyone has a dream job. I dream to join ERT. I expected since I joined UNHCR that I have to work to protect human rights of refugees. I confident that everyone wants to go” he added “It was a real operation which nothing set up. We had to start from zero.”
His work was to collaborate with governments, UN agencies and local NGOs provide protection and assistance to refugees. UNHCR works with governments to provide shelters and registration and support agencies to work in the area such as WFP supports food and UNICEF provides children education.
Thousands of Nubian people from Southern Kodofan in Sudan have to flee from their home because the government wants the land and needs to expel them. “We have six officers support about 20,000 refugees, mostly are single moms and children under 18 years old are about 10,000 people” “Our duty is to ensure refugee’s safety by resettling them to a safe place because if something happens to them, who will be responsible” Mr. Kannavee added.
Working in a hazard area means that danger to life can happen all the time, on 15 November might be a normal day for most people but the protection officer “it was the landing time. I heard a bomb near where we were landing. We all escaped to the jungle for our safety. There were five bombs; three were dropped near school area; one was at the back of UNHCR compound. Fortunately, no one injured.”
The danger, remote area and tough challenge to protect thousands of refugees do not bring down his commitment. The reason is his impression of Sudanese refugees. “Refugees are very different from refugees in Mae Hong Son. Everything here is so tough. The war zone is far from where they live only 15 kilometers. Food comes once a month because the transportation costs three time of food cost. But refugees are so brave and strong. They are doctors, nurses and other professionals who create well community management. I also admired students, they are confident and clever.” He added “but both refugees are similar in one thing, they want to go home once there is peace.”
Emergency team is not allowed to work more than three months, thus Mr. Kannavee had to return to his station. He said “If I can go back, I will, regardless the difficulty and danger. My job was almost done and I almost there.”
UNHCR sends professional Emergency teams in the South Sudan mission in order to bring refugees away from border and fighting areas and to resettle them at Nyeel, South Sudan. UNHCR currently successful moved some refugees from the risk areas.