Mostly Christian refugees to be repatriated to Burma; US to end program for them

This story has been languishing in my posting queue for weeks, so I thought I better get it posted so as to keep our archives up to date.

Thailand’s Mae La Refugee Camp

After taking tens of thousands of Burmese refugees to the US, and turning cities such as Ft. Wayne, Indiana into the Burmese capital of America we are now saying, it’s o.k. for the rest of you to go back home.    Truth be told, I think we’re bored with the Burmese Christians and are planning to make room for Burmese Rohingya Muslims to diversify our refugee collection (after all that is only “fair”, right?).  We have already taken some Muslims from Burma.

This is the AP story from early last month:

Since the day she was born, 20-year-old Naw Lawnadoo has known almost nothing of the world beyond the fence and guard posts that hem her in with 45,000 others — ethnic minorities from Myanmar and those like her who were born and raised in the Mae La refugee camp in neighboring Thailand.

School, family, friends, shopping and churchgoing — many of the refugees are Christian — have all been confined to a valley of densely packed bamboo-and-thatch huts huddled under soaring limestone cliffs.

Now, she and other camp residents face a future that will dramatically change their constricted but secure, sometimes happy lives. With the end of 50 years of military rule in Myanmar, aid groups are beginning to prepare for the eventual return of one of the world’s largest refugee populations — some 1 million people in camps and hideouts spread across five countries.

The US took-in about 92,000 Burmese refugees in recent years.

Some may melt into Thailand, joining the 2.5 million migrant workers from Myanmar. A few may be resettled in third countries, though the United States is ending a program under which it has taken 80 percent of the 105,000 settled so far. With shrinking options, most will likely have no choice but to return.

While camp life is hardly cosmopolitan, some of the young can meet foreigners, have access to the Internet and occasionally slip out to a nearby town, or even the shopping malls and bright lights of Bangkok, Thailand’s capital. For them, the prospect of planting rice in isolated villages to which they would probably go holds little attraction.

I guess it wouldn’t.

Just goes to show the fickle nature of the US State Department’s refugee admissions program.

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