US Announces End of Resettlement Program

 US Ambassador to Thailand David Robinson speaks to refugees at the Mae La camp on Jan. 25, 2013. (Photo: Saw Eh Kler)

US Ambassador David Robinson speaks to refugees at the Mae La camp on Jan. 25, 2013. (Photo: Saw Eh Kler)

David Robinson, the US principal deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, visited the Mae Lae refugee camp on Friday to announce plans to discontinue the US resettlement program for refugees from Burma within the next 120 days.

Robinson said the reason for the move was that the US had reached its quota of refugees from Burma.

Saw Eh Kler, the secretary 1 of the Mae La camp, said after meeting with the ambassador that refugees holding UN registration cards can still apply for resettlement to the US for the next 120 days, starting from today.

Mae La is home to more than 40,000 refugees, and is the largest of nine camps on Thai-Burmese border, which house a total of around 140,000 refugees displaced by decades of conflict in Burma.

Robinson will travel to other camps along the border over the next few days to make the announcement about the end of the US resettlement program, which began in 2005.

The US is one of several countries participating in the program, which according to the Thai-Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) has so far resettled 70,000 refugees to the US, Canada, Australia and several European countries.

According to the TBBC, which has coordinated support for the camps for more than two decades, more than half of the resettled refugees have moved to the US. The other participating countries are expected to continue accepting new applicants for the program.

Although Robinson did not not cite political changes inside Burma, including recent ceasefires reached with ethnic armed groups based along the border, in the decision to discontinue US involvement in the program, some refugees said they suspected that this played a part in the move.

Saw Htun Htun, who once chaired a committee overseeing the Mae La refugee camp, said that if that really was the reason for ending the program, it reflected a poor understanding of the current situation.

“No matter how much the international community praises Burma, the rulers are still mostly people who served in the former military government. So I don’t think they will hand over power easily to a genuine civilian government,” he said.

“I think the peace process in Burma will take a very long time. That’s why, for the sake of my family’s future, I decided to resettle in a third country,” he added.

10 Responses to US Announces End of Resettlement Program

  1. In Rangoon US embassy, 90% of the applicants who are seeking entry visa to US have been rejected for many reasons. It means that ordinary Burmese citizens have very rare chance to go to US even for tour. On the other hand, 90% fake refugees who sneaked into the refugee camps in Mae Sot District and applied for resettlement, could resettle in US. Resettlement is very powerful pushing factor for the refugees to go back to Burma. Please wait and see after these 120 days what these fake refugees in the camps will do- sneak inside Thailand and find a job or quietly go back to their original place?

    • Yebaw Kyaung,
      What do you mean “90% fake refugees”? In Burma, except military related families, all the people are refugees in the own homeland. You may not know the definition of “REFUGEE”. Don’t attack the ones who seek refuge somewhere. You call yourself Yebaw but I call you Yebaw Kyaung. If you attack the cruel government, we can understand but you just attack the people who seek refuge somewhere. They sneak or they walk straight, none is your business. I am not a refugee but I have no problem with people who seek refugee status in the West. We all know that the Myanmarese junta is the worst of the worst. The most corrupt government.

      • I do not attack the people but attack the fake ( unwanted and undersirable) persons who make the problems to real refugees. Because of these fake refugees US government stopped taking refugees from Mae La Camp. Because of these fake refugees the real refugees lost their right for resettlement. That’s what I mean brother Doe.

  2. People are not stupid, they are powerless. When the elites cozy up to one another what chance do the people have? They’ll get pushed around from pillar to post. Even some of their own leaders may sell them down the river for position or lucrative business opportunities. Look no further than our own ASSK, poacher turned game keeper, with the big carrot of presidency enticingly dangling in front.

    Organize and fight for your rights! There is no alternative.

  3. when i get a chance to rule burma soon, burma will become a place of refuge for all in troubles….burma will become the richest, the most economically powerful and the most peaceful nation not just in asia but in the whole wide world. burma will become rich not necessarily individually but as a society, meaning no billionaire but even the least in society able to afford quality living; owning decent homes, holding decent jobs, having access to all the quality and affordable health care, being able to take care of one’s family…and the like…..burma will achieve all these with what it has now…..not necessarily by importing so called elites from harvard or any other institutions.

  4. it is very sad to hear that the USA will be stopping resettlement program for Burmese people,this is the only hope that we have and have been waiting for over 5 years so now we are hopeless. Instead of going back to the ruthless namely democracy, racist who has been trying to drive away the races or tribes from their land and resettle original Burmese people in their land and influence them, the country no freedom, no right, it is better to live in other countries even as illegals, i pray that USA will still keep taking refugees from Burma because it is the only hope that millions of people have in the second country

  5. There is no fake refugee until and unless there’s a war or dictatorshipnism is in their country.

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