This article from AlertNet (the world’s humanitarian news site) about a refugee camp in Thailand gives readers some idea of how the spigot will never turn off. People are cared for in camps and become reliant on aid. With the hope of resettlement in the West, they just keep coming.
MAE SOT, Thailand (AlertNet) – The smell of deep fried snacks mingling with sweet tea, the ladies with shopping baskets laden with fresh greens, the men puffing on cigars in teashops with blaring TVs, teenagers milling about stalls with the latest mobile phones and gadgets – it’s a typical market scene in any small town in Southeast Asia.
But this is no town. This is Mae La, a sprawling refugee camp an hour’s drive from the border town of Mae Sot in northwest Thailand.
It is home to over 45,000 people from Myanmar who fled their homeland as a result of the world’s longest running civil war between the national army and indigenous ethnic groups.
The official Thai term for these places – there are nine along the border housing some 142,000 people – is ‘transitional camp’. But Mae La was set up 27 years ago.
Children who were born and grew up here know little beyond the thatch-roofed, wire-fenced existence.
They just keep coming:
With a host of support programmes, food aid and the prospect of possible resettlement, these camps offer a life far better than what most people have in Myanmar, attracting more people to cross the border, observers say.
The market at Mae La may be in full swing three days a week and motorbike taxis are readily available for residents who want to go out, but officially residents are not allowed to leave the camps so employment and livelihood opportunities are limited.
The Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC), an NGO which has been working with refugees from Myanmar for 25 years, says people were initially self-reliant, but have become totally aid-dependent over the years because of the restrictions on their movement.
And we just keep taking them. Burmese refugees consistently top the list of refugees admitted to the US each year.
Here is what I wrote in January in a post about the US Census not accurately counting the Burmese in the US:
According to the most recent annual Report to Congress from the Office of Refugee Resettlement we resettled 16,074 Burmese from 1983-2007 (just the refugee program). And, let me say AGAIN, the ORR is now nearly 3 years behind in releasing these LEGALLY REQUIRED documents to Congress. However, we have another source of numbers here.*
1983-2007: 16,074 Burmese arrived in US as refugees
2010: + 16,693
* Readers, in previous years this site kept up with the numbers monthly and yet has failed to post any new numbers since last September. I can only assume someone doesn’t want the public to see the number of refugees we are admitting this year.