Thailand: More than 20,000 Myanmar refugees resettled in third countries
Last week, under the world's largest refugee resettlement programme, the number of Myanmar refugees who had left Thailand to begin new lives in third countries passed the 20,000 mark. Since the programme started in January 2005, a total of 20,878 refugees have departed as of December 10, with a further 3,471 approved for resettlement and just waiting for their departure date.
Nearly every day, Myanmar refugees leave Thailand for third countries. The largest number have gone to the United States, which made an open-ended offer in 2005 to take refugees from the camps in Thailand. Since the start of the programme, 11,737 Myanmar refugees have resettled in the United States, in such cities as Minneapolis, Minnesota; Fresno, California; Lansing, Michigan; Dallas, Texas and Syracuse and Buffalo in New York State.
Australia has welcomed 2,154 Myanmar refugees from Thailand, and Canada 2,132 during this period. Other resettlement countries for Myanmar refugees are Finland, Great Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden.
Most of the refugees fled fighting and oppression in Myanmar over the past 11 years, and have been sheltering in nine refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border, which now have a population of 124,300 registered refugees.
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.