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Koreans fly in to help Myanmar refugees

Rights group volunteers to take medical care to camps in Thailand

Myanmar children at a refugee camp in Mae Sot in Thailand (Photo courtesy of Gwangju Humanrights Peace Foundation) Myanmar children at a refugee camp in Mae Sot in Thailand (Photo courtesy of Gwangju Humanrights Peace Foundation)
  • John Choi, Seoul
  • Korea
  • February 10, 2011
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A Church-run Korean human rights group is sending volunteers to help refugees from Myanmar in Thailand.

The Gwangju Human Rights Peace Foundation will organise a volunteer service of medical care and education for the refugees in Mae Sot, Tak province, near the border between the two countries.

The volunteers – two doctors, 16 university students and five other staff – will take care of some 600 Myanmar refugees who fled from the country's dictatorship and are living in desperate conditions in northern Thailand.

The health service center of Chonnam national university is supplying the medical staff, medicine and medical supplies. The students will teach elementary-school level refugee children art, music, English and sport.

Refugees who were part of the 1988 democratization movement are entitled to legal status but recent refugees from Myanmar are undocumented.

Kim Ji-yeon, an official of the foundation, said: “The aim of our foundation is to repay what we received from others during the Gwangju democratization movement (a popular uprising in the South Korean city of the same name) in 1980. The volunteer trip is realizing the aim of finding another Gwangju and helping them."

Father Raphael Kim Jae-hak, executive director of the foundation said: "I hope young people of Gwangju experience the sorrow of other people, form solidarity with them during the trip and become people with a wider view, caring for others."

The foundation was established last August to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Gwangju democratization movement.

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