Thailand: Resettlement leaves gaps in camp services
However, there has been a price to pay in the gap left in key refugee camp services.
Saw Wah Htee, the community leader in Umpium refugee camp in southern Tak Province, told IRIN six of the 15 camp committee members had already resettled, leaving a leadership gap.
Similarly in education. Naw Baw Nyaw, secretary of the Karen Women's Organization (KWO), said: "A major problem is that programme staff is being resettled - particularly teachers. Previously, teachers had experience. Now teachers are newly graduated, with no experience.
"Fifty percent of our teachers have been lost to resettlement since 2005."
Even the nine-member KWO leadership committee has five new members because their predecessors have resettled.
According to Christopher Lowenstein-Lom, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for Asia and the Pacific: "A large proportion of the young and educated opt for resettlement. Many have worked with NGOs in the camps and have a grasp of English."
The same problem is affecting medical staff in the camps. Tun Khin and his wife are both medics trained by Aide Medicale Internationale (AMI), the French NGO providing healthcare. They are soon expected to depart for the United States.
"We have applied to be resettled in the United States and have a relative in South Dakota."
Bo Bo Lwin, a clinical doctor at the AMI clinic in Umpium refugee camp, told IRIN: "Before we had 34 medics at our clinics in Nupo and Umpium, but 18 have resettled."
Even the pool of midwives is being affected. Silver Moo, who has been a midwife in Nupo camp since 1994, is taking a special training course to deal with emergency deliveries but told IRIN she would soon be resettling in Australia. Her colleague, Moo Paw Hla, who was also trained as a midwife in 1994 and is undergoing the emergency training, says she too will soon resettle, in her case to Nebraska, USA.
In the past, AMI and the American Refugee Committee (ARC) collaborated in training midwives, according to ARC, but "AMI doesn't have the staff and capacity any more because so many of its people have been resettled."
Increasingly, according to camp officials, organisations are training refugees who are not registered with the Thai authorities, in the theory that they will remain in the camps for longer.
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