Laos: Ban Napho camp repatriation completed

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 25 February 2000, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The last group of 181 returnees from Ban Napho camp in Thailand left a transit centre at Nasaat in Laos on Sunday and are now in their home villages in Pak Ngeum district. This completes the repatriation of 1,164 Lao from the Ban Napho camp, which was carried out between 28 September and 15 December. With assistance from UNHCR, these returnees are now rebuilding their homes and most are preparing for the next rice planting season.

The emptying of the transit centre ends more than a decade of efforts by UNHCR to promote voluntary repatriation of the Lao people in Thailand. More than 350,000 people fled Laos beginning in 1975. Around 325,000 Lao have resettled in third countries and more than 25,000 others have returned to Laos under UNHCR's repatriation programme.

UNHCR is grateful to the Lao government for its cooperation in making the repatriation and reintegration of the returnees possible.