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UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Myanmar / Thailand

UNHCR Fundraising Reports, 1 December 1998

Basic Facts

What we do

Provide protection and relief assistance to asylum-seekers and refugees from Myanmar in refugee camps along the Myanmar border in Thailand, in the Maneeloy Burmese Centre (MBC) in Ratchaburi province, and in the Bangkok Refugee Centre.

Who we help

101,600 refugees from Myanmar, of which 100,400 are accommodated in camps on the Thai/Myanmar border, 1,000 in the Maneeloy Burmese Centre, and up to 200 live dispersed in Bangkok.

Our requirements

US$ 3,351,700

Our offices

Bangkok, Mae Sot, Mae Hong Son, Kanchanaburi.

Our partners

Operations Centre for Displaced Persons (OCDP)/ Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defense, Burmese Border Consortium (BBC), International Rescue Committee (IRC).


Refugees have been fleeing Myanmar for some four decades, prompted by repeated clashes between ethnic minorities and the Government of Myanmar and due to restrictive human rights practices, including reported forced relocations, limitations on movement and compulsory labour, in areas of origin. In June 1998 the Government of Thailand formally requested UNHCR's assistance in caring for some 101,600 ethnic Karen and Karenni refugees from Myanmar accommodated in 13 camps scattered along the border between the two countries. UNHCR acceded to this request and, through a subsequent assessment of the situation, concluded that the agency's role should focus primarily on protection monitoring.


UNHCR field-based protection staff will advise the Government of Thailand in establishing criteria for refugee status determination procedures to ensure that groups of asylum-seekers fleeing conflict, or the effects of conflict, will be permitted temporary protection in camps in Thailand. UNHCR will provide assistance, as required, to relocate camps at risk of incursion further away from the border, and, in collaboration with the Government, will conduct comprehensive and verifiable registration exercises and monitor the civilian character of the camps. Registration of residents in all refugee camps along the Thai/Myanmar border will continue into 1999. Protection staff based in recently established field offices in Tak, Mae Hong Son and Kanchanaburi will visit the camps regularly.

Protection Outside the Camps

In Bangkok, UNHCR will determine the refugee status of, and provide material assistance to, asylum-seekers from Myanmar who have compelling reasons not to reside in the border camps. This assistance will be provided pending their admission to the Maneeloy Burmese Centre in Ratchaburi.

The Regional Office in Bangkok will consider resettlement options for compelling cases. Meanwhile, individual refugees may approach embassies which have specific resettlement programmes for this group. UNHCR will conduct orientation seminars and training workshops for provincial and district officials through 1999 to explain the agency's role on the border and disseminate information about the agency's work.

The UNHCR programme, while primarily focused on access to asylum, protection monitoring, and camp security, may require expansion if conditions in the country of origin become conducive to the refugees' safe return.


The Burmese Border Consortium estimates that the total border population of 100,395, as of the end of September 1998, was composed of 86,896 Karen refugees accommodated in nine camps and 13,499 Karenni refugees accommodated in four camps. Comprehensive camp population data, including age, gender, place of origin, and vocational profiles, will be further developed through joint Government/UNHCR registration exercises.

UNHCR's assistance to camp populations will complement that provided by the Government and NGOs. Most camps are in remote areas and are difficult to reach during the rainy season. The agency will support local authorities in improving access roads to the camps and in relocating camps to safer sites away from the border. UNHCR will contribute to the cost of relocating the refugees, their belongings and removable camp infrastructure. Assistance in reconstructing relocated camps, including building refugee shelters and essential community buildings, water and sanitation systems and electrical grids, will also be provided. Alternative cooking fuel will be provided in an effort to minimize damage to local forests.

Community-Based Assistance

A modest level of community-based assistance will be provided in Thai villages affected by refugee populations. The three provinces will be asked to submit proposals for environmental rehabilitation and the reinforcement of community-support structures to redress the negative effects of refugee settlements.

Support to the Maneeloy Burmese Centre

UNHCR provides protection support, accommodation, food, health care, counselling services, and education assistance for up to 1,000 Burmese refugees who will reside in the Maneeloy Burmese Centre (MBC), Ratchaburi Province, during 1999. An allowance of US$ 21 per month is given to MBC residents to help them cover the cost of toiletries, clothes and incidental items. UNHCR also helps maintain the refugee shelters, safe drinking water network, access roads, drainage and sanitation systems and the electrical grid. Vector control systems are also maintained to prevent insect and rodent-borne disease within the MBC.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) provides basic health services in the centre. A qualified nurse will be employed full-time to treat minor medical problems and to refer patients to the local hospital as required.

Assisting Refugees in Bangkok

Some 200 refugees from Myanmar live in dispersed accommodation in Bangkok. Monthly allowances to cover food and accommodation are provided to these refugees pending their admittance to the MBC. There is also limited assistance to allow student refugees from Myanmar to attend vocational-training courses.


The Operations Centre for Displaced Persons (OCDP), of the Ministry of Interior, and the Ministry of Defense are responsible for the construction and maintenance of camp infrastructure. They also administer the camps and provide utilities and security.

The NGO, Burmese Border Consortium (BBC), provides multi-sectoral assistance to the refugee camps on the Thai/Myanmar Border, including food rations, cooking fuel, and shelter and infrastructure support. UNHCR contributes to the BBC's basic food distributions. Health care, water and sanitation services, and limited education programmes in the camps are supported by several NGOs including: Aide Medical Internationale (AMI), American Refugee Committee (ARC), Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT), Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugee (COERR), Handicap International (HI), International Rescue Committee (IRC), Malteser Germany (MHD), Médecins sans frontières France (MSF-F), Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), Taipei Overseas Peace Service (TOPS), and ZOA Refugee Care Netherlands (ZOA).

Budget US$

The budget includes costs in Thailand, Myanmar and at Headquarters.

ActivitiesSpecial Programmes
Domestic Needs/Household Support558,226
Water Supply54,843
Health/ Nutrition42,008
Shelter/Other Infrastructures243,059
Community Services40,000
Legal Assistance/Protection136,206
Agency Operational Support173,717
Programme Delivery Costs*1,053,900
UNHCR Administrative Support240,500

* Includes costs for protection, monitoring and coordination.




UNHCR country pages

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Country Operations Fact Sheets

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The Global Report and Funding Reports

A comprehensive view of the refugee agency's challenges and achievements worldwide.


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The Global Appeal and Supplementary Appeals

Alerting donors, organizations and individuals to the plight of millions of uprooted people.

Myanmar Cyclone Victims Still Need Aid

With eight relief flights and an earlier truck convoy from nearby Thailand, UNHCR had by June 6, 2008 moved 430 tonnes of shelter and basic household supplies into Myanmar to help as many as 130,000 victims of Cyclone Nargis. The aid includes plastic sheeting, plastic rolls, mosquito nets, blankets and kitchen sets. Once the aid arrives in the country it is quickly distributed.

On the outskirts of the city of Yangon – which was also hit by the cyclone – and in the Irrawady delta, some families have been erecting temporary shelters made out of palm leaf thatching. But they desperately need plastic sheeting to keep out the monsoon rains.

Posted on 12 June 2008

Myanmar Cyclone Victims Still Need Aid

Returnees in Myanmar

During the early 1990s, more than 250,000 Rohingya Muslims fled across the border into Bangladesh, citing human rights abuses by Myanmar's military government. In exile, refugees received shelter and assistance in 20 camps in the Cox's Bazaar region of Bangladesh. More than 230,000 of the Rohingya Muslims have returned since 1992, but about 22,000 still live in camps in Bangladesh. To promote stability in returnee communities in Myanmar and to help this group of re-integrate into their country, UNHCR and its partner agencies provide monitors to insure the protection and safety of the returnees as well as vocational training, income generation schemes, adult literacy programs and primary education.

Returnees in Myanmar

Refugees from Myanmar: Ethnic Karens Seek Shelter

Over 2,000 refugees from Myanmar have crossed the border into Thailand in recent months. Most claim to be fleeing renewed conflict and human rights abuses in Kayin state, Myanmar. The mainly ethnic Karen refugees say their houses and villages have been burned and civilians killed. Many were weak upon arrival, suffering from illnesses such as malaria, after a long, dangerous journey to the camps through heavily mined areas. The refugees have been arriving at government-run camps, mainly in the Mae Hong Son area in northern Thailand.

UNHCR is working with the Thai government and non-governmental organisations to ensure the new arrivals are admitted to the camps and provided with adequate shelter and protection. Shelter has been a major issue as the capacity in many refugee camps has been overwhelmed. In a breakthrough in mid-May, Thai authorities agreed to build proper houses for the new arrivals.

There are currently 140,000 refugees from Myanmar living in nine border camps in Thailand, many of them have been there for up to 20 years.

Refugees from Myanmar: Ethnic Karens Seek Shelter

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