The possibility of Burmese refugees returning to their country has prompted the Thai-Burma Border Consortium to visit Burma to explore establishing a presence in Rangoon.
However the governments of both Thailand and Burma acknowledge that conditions are not yet conducive to voluntary repatriation in safety and with dignity, said a TBBC statement on its website on Monday.
Officials, in Rangoon in early September to discuss an eventual return, met with Minister Aung Min from the President’s Office, civic organizations and private groups over a four-day period.
TBBC has already begun reorienting its programmes to build preparedness, including holding consultations with all stakeholders, carrying out needs assessments and agreeing on principles and standards.
However, they acknowledged there will be many challenges in reintegrating refugees and internally displaced people into conflict-affected communities.
The Rangoon visit confirmed the need for improved coordination between humanitarian agencies on both sides of the border and to support the flow of information between resident and displaced communities, said officials.
Creating and supporting linkages between civil society organizations recognized by the government and those recognized by non-state armed groups will be a key to ensuring community participation in the planning and management of the return and reintegration processes.
The TBBC is also working with the Myanmar Peace Center.
Until such time as refugees can be repatriated, the TBBC remains committed to promoting the rights of refugees and displaced people to assistance and protection and, in particular, to ensuring that basic services to 140,000 refugees in camps along the Thai-Burma b0rder are maintained, officials said.