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Myanmar: IOM Resettles over 74,000 Refugees From Thailand Since 2004

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IOM resettled over 17,000 refugees from Thailand in 2009, bringing the total number of refugees moved from the country's refugee camps to new homes abroad to over 74,000 since 2004.

The majority of the refugees - over 57,000 or nearly 80% - came from Myanmar, and belonged to the Karen and Karenni ethnic groups. A further 15,000 were ethnic Hmong from the Lao PDR.

Over 80% of the 74,000 were resettled in the USA, with the remainder accepted by Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

In 2009 6,800 or nearly 40% of the refugees resettled by IOM Thailand came from Ban Mae Nai Soi - a jungle camp located in the remote north west of the country in Mae Hong Son province. A further 3,400 came from Mae La camp, 300kms to the south in Tak province.

The remainder were resettled from seven other remote border camps located close to Thailand's mountainous jungle border with Myanmar. All but about 300 of the 17,074 refugees moved by IOM Thailand in 2009 came from Myanmar.

IOM provides pre-departure health screening for refugees at the request of resettlement countries, including chest x-rays to check for tuberculosis and other contagious diseases. If a refugee is found to be suffering from a contagious disease, IOM provides treatment until they are fit to travel.

When the refugees are cleared to depart, IOM transports them by bus from the camps to Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport and arranges their onward travel on commercial flights to their final destinations in resettlement countries.

IOM's 35-year history of refugee resettlement from Thailand began in 1975 in the aftermath of the Vietnam war, when it helped nearly half a million Indochinese refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to leave the country and start new lives abroad. It works closely with the Royal Thai government, UNHCR and the governments of resettlement countries.

For more information and a fact sheet detailing IOM Thailand's resettlement operations, please contact Chris Lom at IOM Bangkok. Email: clom@iom.int. Tel. +66.819275215.

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