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Thailand: Talks Underway with UN to Repatriate Burmese Refugees

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Thailand says it is working with the United Nations to develop a plan to repatriate more than 100,000 Burmese refugees who fled their homeland over the past two decades to escape fighting between Burmese forces and rebels.

Thai National Security Council chief Tawin Pleansri, speaking Monday in Bangkok, linked the planned repatriation to Burma's first democratic elections in more than two decades. However, critics of those polls held in November say the new Burmese government, while elected, consists mainly of ex-military figures and their allies.

Tawin did not say when the repatriation process would begin, and indicated it could take some time.

According to the non-governmental aid group, the Thai-Burma Border Consortium, more than 145,000 refugees were encamped on the border last year.

Burmese troops have been fighting armed ethnic groups in eastern Burma for decades. The latest violence flared in November, when Thai officials say about 1,000 Burmese villagers crossed into a Thai border town to escape fighting between ethnic Karen rebels and Burmese forces. Two days of fighting earlier in November prompted about 20,000 Burmese villagers to cross into Thailand.

Article by VOA News