The social action arm of the Catholic Church in Thailand has provided emergency relief packs to Burmese refugees in Mae Sariang District in Mae Hong Son Province this week.
Father Pairat Sriparasert, secretary general of Caritas Thailand, said he and his team had to use off-road vehicles to get to the hard-to-reach refugee camps near the Thailand-Myanmar border.
The priest told LiCAS.news that there are sick children who “need hospital treatment” in one of the camps with some 800 refugees in Khun Yuam District.
Caritas Thailand also distributed food and non-food supplies to a camp in Sao Hin village, which is host to more than 4,000 Burmese Catholics and Buddhists “who escaped the war” in Myanmar.
Meanwhile, the Diocese of Chiang Mai delivered 3.2 tonnes of rice, two thousand cans of tinned fish, and 400 kilos of dried fish to several refugee camps near the Mae Hong Son border.
A representative from the diocese told LiCAS.news that relief packs are “still not enough” because of the “sheer number of refugees.”
The diocese is currently supporting 5,420 refugees in parishes near the border.
Last week, Bishop Francis Xavier Vira Arpondratana of Chiang Mai encouraged the public to provide solutions for refugees and “let them feel included.”
“We are all aware of the plight of our neighbors. While here in Chiang Mai, we live in the peace of Christ, we have our brothers and sisters knocking at our front doors, seeking refuge,” the prelate said.
He said there are around 4,000 Catholics and more than 1,400 Buddist from Myanmar who need assistance.
On June 28, the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) urged the incoming Thai government to heed calls from civil society “to reform policies on refugees to be more compassionate”.
“We support calls made by the Karen Peace Support Network and other locally-led civil society groups regarding Thailand’s policies on refugees and asylum seekers,” said APHR Chair and member of Indonesia’s House of Representatives Mercy Barends.
Barends said the incoming government must “respond to the needs of refugees, uphold their human rights, and guarantee their safety.”
According to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 90,000 Myanmar refugees are living in nine recognized refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border.
The Karen Peace Support Network claimed that the current food ration is valued at approximately 300 THB or US$10 per month. It said that refugees are strictly confined behind fences and barred from seeking employment in Thailand.