Most of the Burmese (Myanmarese) refugees who have come to the US in the last few years are Christian, but it appears that Muslims now are getting the word and filling the camps in Thailand looking to register with the UN in order to be resettled. The camp in this story, Mae La Camp, houses 10,000 Muslims including Rohingya. They want to go to the US, Canada, or Australia.
From The National*:
Mae La Camp, Thailand // Spread along a series of hillocks under a huge rocky outcrop, the Mae La refugee camp presents a peaceful panorama of closely-packed thatched roofs amid the dense jungle.
But Mae La’s mellow aspect belies both the trauma suffered by its Myanmarese inhabitants and its changing ethnic composition as growing numbers of Myanmar’s Muslims, fed up with their position at the bottom of the pile in the poverty-stricken country, seek a new life in Thailand – and preferably further afield.
Mae La is the biggest of the nine camps for Myanmarese refugees on the Thai border and, since a sweeping UN resettlement programme was launched in 2005, has become the departure lounge for thousands of Myanmarese heading for new lives in countries such as the United States, Australia and Canada.
Amid the camp’s humble dwellings built by the refugees from tree trunks and bamboo poles, Mae La’s main mosque stands out. The big two-storey structure has painted concrete walls and a corrugate iron roof, and Muslims in white robes, some of whom physically resemble Bangladeshis or Indians, walk down a wooden staircase from the upstairs prayer hall following lunchtime prayers.
“The number of Muslims arriving in Mae La is increasing,” said Kamal, president of the mosque, a thin 43-year-old in a white T-shirt and dark blue longyi, the sarong-like garment worn by Myanmarese men.
“Before Muslims were just coming here from Karen state. Now they also hail from Rakhine, Mon and Yangon. Many of the young Muslims do not want to go back. Here in the camp they discover more about the world and see a better future for themselves and their children outside the country.”
* Note that this report is in The National from Abu Dhabi, but none of these Muslim refugees will be going to any Muslim country. Couldn’t the wealthy United Arab Emirates take some of their fellow Muslims? Or, how about Saudi Arabia? Not a chance, it never happens! Afraid of offending the little tyrant countries, not one of the humanitarians at the UN ever says a word.
By the way, we took over 16,000 Burmese this past fiscal year. That number was only eclipsed by the number of Iraqis we resettled, here.
For more information on Rohingya, visit our category Rohingya Reports where we have chronicled that groups campaign to be resettled in western countries. So far, Rohingya have gone to Australia, Ireland, Canada and the UK, others likely as well.