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High Commissioner to visit Thailand

Briefing notes

High Commissioner to visit Thailand

25 August 2006

High Commissioner António Guterres is scheduled to start a four-day mission to Thailand on Monday where over 140,000 refugees from Myanmar live in nine camps along the Thai-Myanmar border. For the first time, he will travel with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey, head of the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. They are scheduled to visit Tham Hin refugee camp from which ethnic Karen refugees started being resettled to the United States last week. The U.S. plans to accept 2,700 Karen refugees - who fled strife in their home country of Myanmar as much as nine years ago - by the end of this year.

During his visit, the High Commissioner intends to underline the importance of resettlement as a durable solution for refugees from Myanmar, who have little hope of going home any time soon. Some refugees have lived in the camps for over 20 years. Guterres plans to thank the Thai government for its hospitality and to stress that as refugees leave Tham Hin for resettlement in the U.S., this will also ease tension in the overcrowded camp of some 9,500 refugees.

As well as the U.S. and Canada, UNHCR is working with a number of countries - Australia, Britain, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and Norway - to increase the number of Karen refugees who are accepted for resettlement from Thailand, either as a group, or as individuals with special needs.