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UN refugee chief set to visit camp in Thailand

UN refugee chief set to visit camp of Myanmar refugees in Thailand

25 August 2006 – The head of the United Nations refugee agency begins a four-day mission on Monday to Thailand, where he will visit one of the camps housing refugees from neighbouring Myanmar and emphasize resettlement as a durable remedy for these displaced persons.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Jennifer Pagonis told reporters at a briefing in Geneva today that High Commissioner António Guterres will travel with the United States Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey, head of the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, for the first time.

The two officials are scheduled to visit the overcrowded Tham Hin refugee camp of 9,500 people. Ms. Pagonis said tensions should ease in the congested camp as ethnic Karen refugees started heading to the US last week under a resettlement program.

By year’s end, the United States plans to accept 2,700 Karen refugees, who fled conflicts in their home country of Myanmar as long as nine years ago. More than 140,000 refugees from Myanmar live in nine camps along the Thai-Myanmar border and Guterres intends to underscore the importance of resettlement for these people, some of whom have lived in the camps for more than two decades.

UNHCR is working with a number of countries – including the US, Canada, Australia, Britain, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and Norway – to boost the number of Karen refugees accepted for resettlement from Thailand.


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