UNHCR chides Thailand for deporting refugees to Myanmar

Fifty women, 70 children and 46 men at Wa Lay site in Tak Province, were ordered to leave, the UNHCR said in a statement.

UNHCR chides Thailand for deporting refugees to Myanmar

Thailand forced 166 men, women and children back into Myanmar on Saturday even though they were fleeing fighting in their villages, prompting a reprimand from the United Nations refugee agency on Tuesday.

Fifty women, 70 children and 46 men at Wa Lay site in Tak Province, were ordered to leave, the UNHCR said in a statement.

The agency said that while it appreciated Thailand's policy of allowing in Myanmar nationals when fighting occurs, they should only be returned home voluntarily and safely.

"They were fleeing clashes between the government and ethnic rebels in southeast Myanmar. The people fleeing were Karen," UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch told Reuters in Geneva.

No one at the Thai diplomatic mission to the U.N. in Geneva was immediately available to comment.

The ruling Myanmar junta has long been accused of persecuting the country's ethnic minorities, sparking a continuing exodus. Some 150,000 refugees live in official camps along the Thai-Myanmar border, according to the agency.

At least 3,000 have entered Thailand since June 2009 as fighting intensifies in the south-eastern border area, and the UNHCR said it had expressed its concern already over the last few weeks to the Thai government over the hasty manner in which some refugees were returned.

Some had fled their homes again when fighting resumed shortly after their return, it said.

While Thailand has been a major country of asylum for four decades, it has not ratified the 1951 U.N. refugee convention.


Reuters

Last Mod: 30 Aralık 2010, 11:24
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