• Crisis Severity ?
    1.7
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Impact ?
    0.9
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Humanitarian Conditions ?
    2.0
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Complexity ?
    1.7
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Access Constraints ?
    1.0
    No constraints
    Extreme constraints

Key figures

  • 93,000 People displaced [?]

Overview

01/05/2020

For more than three decades, Thailand has been an important destination for refugees from Myanmar, currently hosting more than 93,000 refugees along the Thailand-Myanmar border. Nearly 80% of the refugees are ethnic Karen people, displaced by armed conflict between Karen separatists and the Myanmar Armed Forces in the 1980s.?

Myanmar refugees live in nine camps, most of which were established in 1997 following a large refugee movement.?

Thailand is not a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention and enforces a strict encampment policy. Most of the refugees were born in Thailand and have never stepped outside the camps. Conditions in the camps are poor. Overcrowding is a concern, particularly in Mae La Camp, which hosts more than 43,000 refugees. Considered ‘illegal migrants’ and unable to work, access public services, or leave the camps, the population is extremely dependent on humanitarian assistance.?

Latest Developments

01/05/2020

There are no recent development. This crisis is being monitored by our analysis team.

The ACAPS team is monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information related to the outbreak, see the ACAPS COVID-19 Project.

Humanitarian Access

01/05/2020

The refugee camps along the Thailand-Myanmar border are geographically isolated. Many are located in remote and mountainous areas which are difficult to reach, especially in monsoon season. The electricity grid is weak, and non-existent in some camps. Lack of legal recognition has limited the ability for refugees to access certain public services, including health care, education, and work opportunities outside the camps.

International funding for humanitarian response activities in the Thai refugee camps has decreased in recent years. The focus of response has shifted toward a development strategy and one that emphasizes resettlement and facilitated voluntary return. This has had a direct impact on the amount of assistance and services being provided to refugees from Myanmar.?

Repatriation and Voluntary Return

01/05/2020

Repatriation and resettlement of refugees has been ongoing since 2005, with more than 100,000 refugees from the camps being resettled to another country.

Thailand and Myanmar agreed in 2016 on a programme to facilitate voluntary return of refugees. This has been coordinated by UNHCR, and is currently the only mechanism for voluntary return to Myanmar. Since its inception in 2016, approximately 1,000 refugees have returned to southeast Myanmar. However, refugee acceptance of the programme and willingness to return has been hampered by the ongoing conflicts in Myanmar and fear of violence and persecution upon return to the country. ?