World Bulletin / News Desk
The deputy head of Myanmar's ministry of social welfare, relief and resettlement told Anadolu Agency that under the first repatriation agreement, 58 people from 19 families had returned.
“Most of them are being resettled in Karen State while some will go to Yangon and other places,” Win Tun Oo said Wednesday by phone.
“Six refugees crossed the border yesterday [Tuesday] to resettle in southern Taninthary State," he added.
Although rights groups claim the government is not yet ready to support those returning, Win Tun Oo said United Nations agencies and international NGOs were helping out.
The move is the first official group repatriation of the more than 103,300 registered refugees who have lived in nine camps along the Thai-Myanmar border for over 20 years.
Most are from ethnic communities who fled their homes to escape fighting between military and ethnic rebels.
Refugees first arrived in the area in the early 1980s after fleeing ethnic conflict in southeastern Myanmar, and the exodus quickly became one of Asia’s most protracted refugee situations.
The chief minister of Karen State said most of those to be repatriated from Thailand would be resettled in this area.
“As most Myanmar refugees in Thailand are Karen ethnic, they are being resettled here,” Nan Khin Htwe Myint said by phone.
“We have prepared well for their return,” she added, but admitted that some preparations had not been finalized.
“Landmine clearance in some areas has still not begun," she said.