A workshop by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) about the resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) was held in Karen State capital Hpa-an.
Saw Kyaw Swar, with a community based group (CBG), said the workshop that was attended by the government, Burma Army, Karen National Union, Karen Refugee Committee (KRC) and CBGs was important because it brought “the views of each group together”.
Naw Blooming Night Zan, KRC financial officer, told KIC News that The Validation Workshop on Return & Reintegration of Displaced People in Karen State focused on the main challenges the government and aid organisations face in returning IDPs to their villages. These include security, health, employment and education.
“This workshop was a draft plan to prepare for the resettlement”, and that factors such as suitable times and locations, need to be determined before this process is started.
However, the meeting entirely focused on IDPs, Naw Blooming Night Zan said, and that “nothing has been done for the refugees yet”.
According to anonymous sources, government attendees proposed that the other participants try to persuade the refugees to return home.
There are an estimated 140,000 people living in refugee camps mainly along the Thai border. Most are ethnic Karen that fled from fighting between the Burma Army and Karen armed groups over the last 20 years.
Although the government has been making some preparations for their return, the majority of the refugees are concerned about their security if they return. In some cases, the Burma Army have set up camps near their former villages. Meanwhile, significant cuts being made to food rations are making life in the camps even more unbearable for residents.