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The United Nations High Cornmissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) mandate to provide international protection and seek durable solutions for refugees comes from a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly. The UNHCR program for assistance in Thailand to refugees from Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia dates back to a request from the Royal Thai Government in September 1975. Since then, more than 1.3 million refugees and displaced persons have arrived. More than 700,000 of those refugees departed for resettlement in third countries, and another 400,000-plus voluntarily repatriated to their countries of origin. The peak of the refugee population in UNHCR-assisted camps in Thailand came in 1980 when there were over 300,000 Indo-Chinese receiving assistance in camps.

There are currently 1,300 Laotian, 50 Vietnamese, 40,000 Cambodian, 105,000 Myanmar and 750 other nationalities of refugees and displaced persons in Thailand. The Laotian refugees are located in Ban Napho Camp, Nakhon Phonom province. The Vietnamese have undergone refugee status determination, of whom 8 are recognized as refugees, and the remainder determined not to be refugees. They are awaiting durable solutions.

The Cambodian displaced persons in Surin and Trat province arrived in August/September 1997, following events which took place in Phnom Penh in July. The group in Sisaket arrived in early May 1998, following the fall of Anlong Veng. They are presently at four locations: 7,700 in Huay Cherng Camp, Surin; 15,200 in Phu Noi, Sisaket; 15,600 in Chong Khao Phlu, Trat; and 800 in urban areas.

Nongovemmental organizations assist in providing: water, sanitation, medical, and health care. The World Food Programme provides rice, canned/dried fish, vegetable oil, and mung beans. UNHCR provides basic need items such as plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, blankets, jerry cans, cooking pots & kettles, soap, compressed sawdust logs, medicine, and pharmaceutical supplies.

UNHCR facilitates the voluntary repatriation of Cambodians from Surin, Trat and Bangkok. Since 10 October 1997, 7563 Cambodian displaced persons have returned home over land via Aran-Poipet. An urban caseload of 278 have voluntarily returned to Phnom Penh by air from Bangkok since 17 December.

The Myanmar border populations comprise two major ethnic groups: 13,400 Karennis in Mae Hong Son province and 89,400 Karens in Chiengrai, Tak, Ratchaburi, Kanchanaburi and Chumpom provinces. Additionally there are Burmese refugees and persons of concern to UNHCR in two locations: 500 Burmese students at the Burmese Centre, Ratchaburi and 2,300 Burmese persons of concerns to UNHCR in urban areas.

The 102,800 displaced persons along the border are assisted by nongovernmental agencies. UNHCR conducts frequent protection monitoring visits. In July 1998, the Royal Thai Government has requested UNHCR to expand its role with refugees/displaced persons from Myanmar on Thai soil. Appropriate and practical ways are being discussed regarding UNHCR's coordination role.

The Thai Ministry of Interior with support from UNHCR provides assistance to the 500 students in the Burmese Center. UNHCR assists the urban caseload which also includes some 750 people of other nationalities.


Dated: 23 July 2000