The Karen Student Network Group (KSNG) used World Refugee Day on June 20 to call for more action on the return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) around the Thai-Myanmar border.
In a statement, president of the KSNG Saw Htoo Htoo Stin claimed that the government seemed reluctant to repatriate these individuals, fearing it could cause political instability.
Saw Htoo Htoo Stin asked the government, ethnic armed organizations and local and international organizations to help provide passage for the refugees and IDPs to come home with dignity.
There are over 100,000 refugees currently living in nine refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border. Additionally, Ei Tu Hta IDP camp houses over 3,000 IDPs and other IDP camps such as Myaing Gyi Ngu, Htee Thay Khi and Naw Ta camps house over 5,000 IDPs.
“These refugees will need to return home one day,” Saw Htoo Htoo Stin said.
In the statement, the KSNG said pre-departure actions should include improved refugee education, refugee involvement in political reform and the peace process and continued support of refugees.
The group urged the Tatmadaw to relocate military camps away from the villages and clear landmines. It also called on the government to provide adequate land with guarantees for the returning refugees and IDPs.
Key points in the statement surrounding reintegration included recognizing the policies of the Karen Education Department, granting the right to the Kayin people to learn a Kayin curriculum and preventing discrimination against returning students and young people.
The KSNG statement also said the government needs to help create job opportunities for the refugees and IDPs.
Coordinator of the Karen Refugee Committee Saw Hayso added that government action in this regard will be vital to help these individuals return home.
Refugee advocates told KIC News that support for the refugee and IDP camps has been declining and that the residents are struggling with dwindling food supplies.