Norwegian involvement in return of Myanmar refugees being criticized

Thailand is preparing to return some 500 refugees back to an area of Burma’s eastern Shan state where fighting continues. According to journalist Francis Wade, Asian, Thailand appears to be working in partnership with the Norwegian Peace Council to assess the Shan refugees’ willingness to go back. By doing so Norway will give this move a veneer of legitimacy, despite the reality of the situation, Francis Wade claims.

All huts in the Koung Jur camp have solar panels installed. The project was finished Marts 2012.

Shan community groups write in a Press release August 27:
“Today, the Norwegian Refugee Council, contracted under the Norwegian-led “Myanmar Peace Support Initiative,” will begin house-to-house surveys of refugees in Koung Jor camp, Northern Chiang Mai province, about their willingness to return to Mong Hta, about 20 kms across the border………The survey starting today in the camp is spreading panic among the refugees, who fear they will shortly be pushed back.”

They further states that:
“The refugees in Koung Jor told Norwegian representatives in July they did not want to go back to Mong Hta due to fear of the Burma Army and other pro-government militias in the area, which is littered with land-mines. Most of the refugees are not from Mong Hta, but from Central Shan State.”

Fracis Wade accusing Norway for only knowing little about the region and suggests that the Norwegian involvement maybe is an economic bartering tool. His main point is a quote from the Shan community groups’ press release:
“The refugees must not be used as guinea-pigs to test out the peace process.”

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