This month, along the Thai-Burma border The United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) and The Thai Ministry of Interior (MOI) have been counting the citizens of the refugee camps and providing them with cards as part of a verification exercise.
This exercise has been taking place in all nine refugee camps along the border. This includes the two Karenni Refugee Camps. The purpose of the exercise as stated by the UN was to verify the population of the camps. The data will be used to find ways to better coordinate humanitarian assistance.
The verification exercise in Karenni Refugee Camp 1 took place over 2 weeks with various sections being called to meet and take part in the exercise. The in camp exercise had two main activities. The first activity involved collecting data on the refugee population within the camp. The second activity involved distribution of UN cards to the refugee population.
The verification process included collecting retinal scans, photographs and fingerprints. This data will be used to physically verify refugees. The data will additionally be used to update existing records on the refugee population. At the end of the exercise, camp citizens received a card. This card will enable them to receive support from UNHCR in Thailand.
Thailand is not a signatory to The 1951 Refugee Convention. The refugees inside the camps are not allowed to travel outside of the camps to take jobs or participate in the Thai economy. Additionally, Refugees who arrived at the camp after 2005 do not have an opportunity to resettle in a third country.
The current situation in Burma means that over 12,000 people still remain in Karenni Refugee Camp 1. Refugee Agencies, along the Thai-Burma border, including the UNHCR have stated that the situation in Burma is not conducive to an organised return. The Camp citizens are hopeful that this card will enable them to live in safety and security.