Burma’s Lost Citizens and Refugee Crisis (Part-II)

Since long Burma’s refugee situation has remained at alarming proportions under military rule. The lost citizens of Burma from various ethnic communities like – Chin, Karen, Rakhaine, Mron, Kamein, Dainuk or Daingnet, Mro, Maramagyi, Thauk (Chakma), Rohingya etc. has been suffering and struggling for dignified livelihood in large numbers not only in Asian continent but in significant numbers at North American, European and Australian shores. According to the recent Chin National Council reports, about 50,000 Chin people had left their homeland and took refuge in foreign countries to escape unabated exploitation by military in Burma. (6) Even recent reliable media reports indicate that hundreds of Chin refugees arrived in January 2007 at Battle Creek office of Lutheran Social Services at Michigan Refugee Centre in USA and the lost citizens’ exodus continues in different safe heavens across Globe. (7) Apart from Chin’s, Rakhaing indigenous people have sought asylum in their neighbouring countries like – India, Bangladesh and Thailand to escape from human rights violation by the Burmese military regime. And January 2001 reports of Arakan League for Democracy (ALD) suggests that, at present there are 3,000 Rakhaing refugees suffering in India, 4000 in Bangladesh and 20,000 in Thailand. However unfortunately for them, surprisingly only 30 Rakhaing refugees are under UNHCR protection in India, 25 in Bangladesh and only 10 Rakhaing refugees are listed in UNHCR data of Thailand. (8)

The United Nations announcement on 7th February 2007 related with the allocation of Central Emergency Response Fund to Burma around US $ 1.35 million for humanitarian aids and growing Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh is a significant and timely effort by international body. Although it is unfortunate and sad for any civic institutions that among more than 30,000 Rohingya refugees living in servile condition in Bangladesh, about one third are not registered with UNHCR. (9)

However for Burma’s lost citizens, the recent announcement by Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration – Diana Finley, that, Canada will welcome an additional 2,000 Karen refugees from Burma over the next two years is a message of great relief & welcome step by civilized nation of world community and important message for others to follow the example of Canada’s efforts. It is noteworthy that already in 2006; Canada accepted a first batch of 810 Karen refugees for resettlement to lead civic life. (10) In addition one Asian country, Thailand’s change of attitude in October 2006 to improve the lives of the 140,000 refugees living in miserable conditions in the nine camps along the Thai-Burmese borders is a welcome long expected initiative by Junta’s ASEAN partner. (11) But what is more required from Thailand has to work seriously more for realization of democracy in Burma in ASEAN forums to solve floods of Burmese refugee crisis in their country.

Moreover, it is important for the world community to continue with their efforts for UN Security Council resolution to bring incorrigible military junta into a negotiating table to break democratic impasse and lasting solution for the lost citizens of Burma for dignified life.

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Endnotes:

6. Chin People for Political Dialogue with Junta, Hindustan Times.com (website of Hindustan Times Daily Newspaper of India) , 23 February 2007, New Delhi.
7. Stephaine Antonian Rutherford, Burma Refugees Coming to Town, The Enquirer, 26 January 2007.
8. The Rakhaing, Arakan League for Democracy (ALD) Publication, Vikaspuri, New Delhi, Year 2001, p.22.
9. Burma Receives Part of UN Emergency Fund, Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), Oslo. February 8, 2007.
10. Canada to Welcome 2,000 more Karen Refugees, Dept. of Citizenship and Immigration, Govt. of Canada, London, February 9, 2007.
11. Thailand: UNHCR Encouraged by New Administration’s Commitments on Myanmar Camp Conditions, UNHCR Briefing Notes, UNHCR, Geneva, 17 October 2006.

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One Comment on “Burma’s Lost Citizens and Refugee Crisis (Part-II)”


  1. This may not be the request you are looking for however, if at all possible I would like background information about Stephaine Antonian Rutherford. I am looking for family members.
    Thank you
    Virginia Antonian


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