Posted Apr 27, 2021

Thailand: Protect refugees fleeing violence and repression in Myanmar

Calling on Thailand and other governments in the Asia region to protect people fleeing violence and repression in Myanmar, including children and young people on the move

As the situation in Myanmar is rapidly deteriorating, Destination Unknown supports a statement of civil society groups, including Destination Unknown member Terre des Hommes Germany, calling for the protection of people fleeing violence and repression in Myanmar. 

Since the military coup in Myanmar on 1 February, at least 575 people have been killed by the military and police as they used increasingly violent means to repress dissent. Such repression together with renewed fighting in ethnic areas means that many in Myanmar are now forced to consider crossing borders in search of safety. 

In particular, there are concerns about reports that on 29 March authorities pushed back some 2,000 of these refugees to Kayin (Karen)  State, despite continued air strikes in the region. Such pushbacks could violate the principle of non-refoulement that forbids States from returning people to territories where they are at risk of persecution or other serious human rights violations. Forcing people to return to active conflict areas could put their lives at risk. As such, clear and systemic screening procedures should be established along the border, including with the involvement of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), to allow everyone fleeing to be able to seek protection. 

Terre des Hommes Germany and the co-signing organisations have also urged that it is crucially important to allow aid agencies unfettered access to everyone fleeing Myanmar to provide lifesaving aid and other services, including healthcare, food and water. 

While Thailand already hosts some 92,000 refugees from Myanmar along its border provinces, and recent commitments by senior level Thai government officials to open their doors and provide aid to those fleeing Myanmar have been welcomed, the co-signatories urge the international community to support the Government of Thailand’s efforts. Such support should help ensure that the needs of refugees are met, and their rights protected. 

“To see so many people, including children, having to leave their homes to survive and seek safety hurts our hearts. We call on the international community to open their borders and provide aid to support them”. Member of Mekong Youth Assembly

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