Written by U Ne Oo on 1998-07-23
DR U NE OO
18 SHANNON PLACE
ADELAIDE SA 5000
MS AMELIA BONIFACIO (FAX:66-2-280-0555)
REPRESENTATIVE FOR UNHCR, THASENTATIVE FOR UNHCR, THAILAND
P.O.BOX 2-121, RAJDANMERN, BANGKOK 10200
DATE: 23 June 1998.
Dear Ms Bonifacio:
I am writing to you to urge UNHCR in Thailand to improve its current activities with regard to monitoring and support to the refugees from Burma. According to a report by THE NATIONS on 11th JUne 1998, UNHCR in Thailand, due to shortage of available staff, will only be involved in rotational monitoring activities of recently consolidated refugee camps. I particularly ask UNHCR in Thailand to set up on-site monitoring offices in at least few of these camps. The underlying reasons that warrant such increased role of UNHCR in Thailand are as follows:
1. Earlier this year, the Royal Thai Government in principle had agreed UNHCR to take a greater role for the protection and support of Burma's refugees. We are aware that, in previous years, the Royal Thai Government allowed UNHCR in Thailand to have one roving protection officer for nearly 100,000 refugees from Burma. I believed it is the right time for the RTGlieved it is the right time for the RTG to give substantive commitment to the internationally recognized protection of Burma's refugees. In this context, the RTG allowing the UNHCR to set up on-site monitoring offices in some of those camps will be the first appropriate step.
2. Although the new Royal Thai Government of Prime Minister Chuan appears to have more flexible policy in supporting Burmese democrats in Thailand, the treatments of Burmese refugees and displaced people at the local level remain unchanged. For example, some of Burma's exiledf Burma's exiled-MPs, in spite of their high political profile, have often been harassed and, recently, were being intimidated to leave Thailand by local Thai police. Therefore, it is urgent for refugees in these camps to have on-site protection offices of UNHCR.
3. There have been frequent reports of Burmese Persons of Concern as well as asylum-seekers in Bangkok are in dire states, because of limited capacity of Safe Area. The much smaller numbers of refugees who passed through resettlement examinations couldn't leave Thailand because they cannot get into Safe Area in Bangkok. By opening UNHCR offices in those refugee camps, such situation on Persons of Concerns and asylum-seekers in Bangkok can become improved. Those wishing to apply for resettlements, eventhough of being smaller chance of practical success, can nevertheless be given opportunity to apply in those camps.
4. Finally, as UNHCR and Royal Thai Government in no doubt are aware, the ethnic minority refugees previously living in smaller camps along Burma-Thailand borler camps along Burma-Thailand border (for example, Salween National Park) have decided to move to new & larger camps in the hope of receiving protection and assistance from UNHCR. This move has to be recognized as the serious commitment that has been made from the part of refugees in order to receive international helps. The refugees' expectation for a proper international protection from UNHCR still has to be met. The UNHCR setting up of on-site monitoring offices in some of these refugee camps will certainly give a good impression to the refugees. I therefore urge UNHCR in Bangkok to increase its resources for protection and assistance of refugees from Burma.
In closing I thank you for your kind attention to this matter. Continuing supports to our refugees from Burma by UNited Nations and High Commissioner's offices are greatly appreciated by the Burmese people.
Sd. U Ne Oo.
1. Secretary Albright, c/-US Foreign Operation Sub-Committee, Washington.
2. Mr de Soto, U.N. DEpt. of Political Affairs, U.N. New York.