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Around 90 residents of the Nu Po refugee camp in western Thailand have signed up for official repatriation to Burma.
Saw Keh Waw, the chairman of Nu Po Refugee Camp Committee, said Burmese government officials visited the camp recently to make arrangements for the repatriation.
“There are around 90 people who signed up for repatriation. The Burmese officials said they will report back to the government in Naypyidaw to make arrangements and set a date for the repatriation,” said Saw Keh Waw.
He said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offices in Burma and Thailand will coordinate the repatriation.
Mya Sandar Win, the government’s Labour Department director in Karen State’s Myawaddy Township, said the government in Naypyidaw instructed local authorities to arrange temporary accommodation to house the returning refugees by 15 October.
“We have an instruction from Naypyidaw — at the moment there is no date set for the repatriation, but we have been told to arrange temporary accommodation for the returning refugees,” said Mya Sandar Win.
She said the officials set up a temporary shelter for the returnees in Myawaddy’s Kyauklongyi Ward and at the moment there was no word on where they will be resettled next.
The Thailand-based Karen Refugee Committee’s coordinator Saw Tu Tu said refugees who would like to be repatriated must report to the UNHCR and their respective refugee camp committees to arrange their return in coordination with government authorities in Thailand and Burma.
He said the refugees who go back to Burma unofficially without reporting to the UNHCR will not get assistance for resettlement in Burma.
In March of this year, 69 residents from the Mae Ra Ma Luang refugee camp returned to Karen State on their own initiative.
There are currently more than 100,000 Burmese refugees in nine refugee camps in Thailand’s Tak, Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi and Mae Hong Song provinces along the border with Burma.