Myanmar refugees leaving Thailand for third countries passes 20,000 mark – UN
The number of Myanmar refugees leaving Thailand to start new lives in third countries has topped 20,000, under the world’s largest refugee resettlement programme, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced today.
Since the programme began in January 2005, a total of 20,787 refugees have left Thailand as of 10 December, while an additional 3,741 have been approved for resettlement and are waiting to leave.
Most of these refugees fled the fighting and oppression in their home country of Myanmar over the past 11 years, and have taken refuge in nine camps – housing 124,300 registered refugees – along the border with Thailand.
“Resettlement is an important solution for refugees for whom returning home or integrating into their countries of asylum is not possible, and we are grateful to resettlement countries for giving so many refugees the opportunity of a new life,” UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told reporters in Geneva today.
The largest number of Myanmar refugees has departed Thailand for the United States, which made an open-ended offer in 2005 to take refugees from Thai camps.
Thus far, nearly 12,000 Myanmar refugees have moved to cities such as Minneapolis, Minnesota; Fresno, California; Lansing, Michigan; and Dallas, Texas.
Meanwhile, 2,154 Myanmar refugees in Thailand have begun new lives in Australia, while 2,132 have resettled in Canada. Other countries where refugees have resettled are Finland, Great Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden.