Jesuit Refugee Service takes global approach to urban refugee issues

Jesuit Refugee Service has long recognized that serving urban refugee populations is a major challenge.

Isolation, restrictive and inadequate government policies and resource constraints all take on increased significance in urban settings.

In March of this year, JRS staff from more than 25 countries met in Bangkok for a global consultation meeting to discuss and debate our work with urban refugees.

Learn more about Jesuit Refugee Service and Urban Refugees here: bit.ly/JdBQpz

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CMC condemns Thai use of cluster munitions in Cambodia

Thailand and Cambodia should join global treaty banning cluster munitions

(Geneva) April 6, 2011 — Based on two separate on-site investigations, the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) has concluded that Thailand used cluster munitions on Cambodian territory during the February 2011 border conflict. Thai officials confirmed the use of cluster munitions in a meeting with the CMC on April 5, 2011.

This is the first use of cluster munitions anywhere in the world since the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force and became binding international law. The CMC condemns any use of cluster munitions, and urges Thailand and Cambodia to immediately commit to no future use and to accede to the global treaty banning the weapons.

“It’s appalling that any country would resort to using cluster munitions after the international community banned them,” said Laura Cheeseman, director of the CMC. “Thailand has been a leader in the global ban on antipersonnel mines, and it is unconscionable that it used banned weapons that indiscriminately kill and injure civilians in a similar manner.”

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Thailand expels 4,000 Hmong refugees

The New York Times reports that in “a quick, one-day operation, Thai soldiers with riot shields and clubs evicted more than 4,000 Hmong asylum seekers from a holding center Monday and forcibly repatriated them to Laos, where they say they face retribution from their government.”

Thailand acted despite protests from the United Nations and human rights groups. Even as the soldiers were trucking the Hmong over the Mekong River into Laos, the United States government was calling on the Thai government to stop.

The Washington Post reports that

the officer in charge of the operation said 2,100 of the camp residents had agreed to leave voluntarily and the army was trying to persuade the rest. But the Thai government has blocked media and international access to the camp and mobile telephone signals in it, making it difficult to independently confirm that information.

The migrants say they are at risk from persecution by the Laos government if they return there. Many were soldiers or family members of soldiers — the so-called “forgotten allies”– who decades ago fought in a secret army set up by the United States to combat the communist insurgents who eventually took over the country in 1975.

Read the WP story here.

Read the NYT story here.

JRS Thailand reaches out to migrant children

The Bangkok Post has an excellent story about Jesuit Refugee Service/Thailand and their efforts at one of six learning centers for Burmese children supported by JRS.

In 2002, the JRS initiated the learning center program after recognizing the difficulties migrant children face in attending Thai schools. It helps build and maintain community-based learning centers, support teachers salaries, provide school uniforms, books and sporting gear, and grant scholarships to outstanding students to study in Thai schools.

Since 2006, the program has added the learning of Thai language in order to prepare Burmese children to attend Thai schools. Teaching Thai language is an effort to enable the youngsters to communicate in Thai, adjust to Thai culture and choose to further their studies in Thai schools.

Angelina Jolie rebuked by Thailand

Agence France – Presse and the Associated Press report that actress Angelina Jolie has been criticized by senior officials in Thailand for remarks she made while touring refugee camps in the country.

United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie. UN Photo/ Evan Schneider

Jolie

Jolie is a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations. Jolie and her partner Brad Pitt were visiting a refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar border when she made her remarks.

AFP reports: While touring the northern Ban Mai Nai Soi camp home to 18,000 refugees from Myanmar, Jolie said she hoped Thailand would be “just as generous to the Rohingya refugees who are now arriving on their shores.”

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Persecuted at home, harassed seeking asylum

Members of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network, a civil society network committed to advancing the rights of refugees in the Asia Pacific Region, urge better treatment for ‘Boat People’ in Asia

Over the past two years, the number of people leaving Bangladesh and Burma by boat for Southeast Asia has grown. They have fled in search of protection, safety and/or work. Most are Rohingyas, a Muslim minority from western Burma.
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