Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 July 2014, 14:54 GMT

50,000th Myanmar refugee leaves Thailand for new life in US, UN reports

Publisher UN News Service
Publication Date 30 June 2009
Cite as UN News Service, 50,000th Myanmar refugee leaves Thailand for new life in US, UN reports, 30 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a572bb5c.html [accessed 23 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

An ethnic Karenni schoolteacher is the 50,000th refugee from Myanmar sheltering in Thailand who has left to begin a new life in the United States, marking a milestone for the world's largest resettlement operation, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) announced today.

Since 1996, Plu Reh had been living in the Ban Mai Nai Soi camp - where he had taught primary school - in northern Thailand since 1996. Along with his wife and 2-year-old daughter, he left Bangkok this morning on a 28-hour journey that will ultimately take him to Camden, New Jersey.

Before departing, he "spoke optimistically to our staff about the opportunities in the United States for a good education for his daughter and for further education for himself and his wife," UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler said.

Resettlement from the nine refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border began in 2004, but picked up pace in early 2005 when the US offered homes to the uprooted.

"For refugees around the world, return to their home country is usually the preferred option," Mr. Spindler said.

But most of the Myanmar refugees, most of whom had been for over two decades in Thailand where they are not allowed to settle permanently, do not see any chance of returning to their home country.

"So for them, resettlement in a third country is the best option," the UNHCR spokesperson said, expressing gratitude to countries such as the US, Canada, Australia, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden for offering refugees a chance to restart their lives.

Currently, 112,000 registered Myanmar refugees live in the nine camps, and the agency expects to resettle a further 6,000-7,000 this year.

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