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Caritas Thailand braces for major Rohingya influx

Many more refugees may flee as monsoon season ends

<p>Picture: catholic News Agency</p>

Picture: catholic News Agency

  • Antonio Anup Gonsalves for Catholic News Agency
  • Thailand
  • September 9, 2013
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Responding to a humanitarian crisis pushing tens of thousands of a minority ethnic group in Burma from their homes, Caritas Thailand is caring for refugees who have fled violence in their home country.

“Caritas Thailand has especially dedicated this year to address refugee issues as one of its priority concerns,” Fr. Pairat Sriparasert, secretary general of Caritas Thailand, told CNA last month. 

The Rohingya people are minority group who live in Burma's Rakhine state and practice Islam. They have long been persecuted by the country's Buddhist majority, and in 2012, riots in Rakhine displaced some 125,000 Rohingya.

“The Rohingya crisis is a major and crucial burning issue for Thailand and for its Southeast Asian neighbors,” Fr. Sriparasert explained.

Many Rohingya flee to Bangladesh or to Thailand, where they seek to make their way to Malaysia.

Fr. Sriparasert said “it is estimated that about 2,000 Rohingya are detained in various detentions centers of Thailand.”

He fears that “the numbers may further increase once the monsoon season stops and the sea calms down in next few months.”

Many Rohingya flee Burma by boat, paying traffickers to escape discrimination in their home country.

“They are vulnerable to risks of abuse, harassment, exploitation, and human trafficking, which keeps them under constant fear and distress,” lamented Fr. Sriparasert.

When they arrive in Thailand, Rohingya refugees are put into separate detention centers. Men are detained in southern Thailand, whereas women and children are confined in overcrowded temporary shelters which do not meet the minimum standards of detainees living condition, located in the country's northern provinces.

Full Story: Catholic volunteers in Thailand aid refugees from Burma 

Source: Catholic News Agency

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