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Despite decades of experience with hosting millions of refugees, Thailand’s refugee policies remain fragmented, unpredictable, inadequate and ad hoc, leaving refugees unnecessarily vulnerable to arbitrary and abusive treatment.Thailand is not a party to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 Refugee Convention) or its 1967 Protocol.“We are on Thai land so we have to be submissive,” said one.“We cannot speak out and we have to be patient and passive.Several of the camps are very overcrowded, and refugees in all of the camps have been enduring cuts in basic assistance, such as food and shelter.A series of political changes in Burma beginning in 2011, including the signing of preliminary ceasefire agreements between the Burmese government and nearly all the ethnic armed groups, has raised the prospect that this protracted refugee situation could have an end in sight.
With a reduced support network and fewer coping skills and after so many years with restrictions on movement, proscriptions on the right to work, and dependency on outside aid, many camp residents experience domestic abuse, depression, and other social and mental health problems.
This report also looks at the situation of refugees and asylum seekers from other nationalities and their difficulties in finding predictable and sufficient protection in Thailand.
Finally, the report looks at the situation of all migrants in Thailand, including refugees and asylum seekers, in their encounters with police and other authorities, including when faced with being detained in Thailand’s Immigration Detention Centers (IDCs) and with deportation or expulsion from the country.
The isolation of the refugee camps contributes to an environment ripe for abuse of power and impunity.
Refugees in camps lack basic freedoms in Thailand, which renders them vulnerable to the predations of many, including some of the Thai government and security officials mandated with protecting the camps.