In 1984, the first wave of refugees began flooding across the Burma border into Thailand, fleeing from conflict.
Twenty-five years on, one of Christian Aid’s partners continues to provide food and shelter to 140,000 Burmese refugees who are unable to return because of ongoing conflict, forced displacement and human rights abuses in their home country.
One man’s story
‘I feel like I’m in a no-man’s land. I don’t feel I belong anywhere, or that I can call anywhere home,’ says 22-year-old Kho Ray.
Kho Ray was born in a refugee camp on the Thailand Burma border. He has been educated in a refugee camp. He got married in a refugee camp and has a two year old son who was also born in the refugee camp.
That is two generations of one family who have never known freedom.
Burmese refugees are not allowed outside the camps and opportunities to earn a living are very limited.
And with no electricity, no phones and no internet, it’s a life cut off from the outside world.
‘We would like the [Royal Thai] government to give us migrant cards so we can work outside the camps,’ says Kho Ray hopefully. ‘The situation in Burma is still bad, so who knows what will happen to us?’
Ultimately, Kho Ray would like to find a true home and to taste freedom but with more refugees arriving each month, his chances of pursuing his hopes seems further and further away.
Although the refugees run camp life themselves, people like Kho Ray survive on the rice, fish paste, beans and oil provided by the Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) thanks to donations from Christian Aid supporters.
Find out more about Christian Aid’s work with TBBC.