As Tensions Mount for Forced Return to Laos, Fire Ravages Hmong Refugee Camp in Northern Thailand
On Friday, May 23, a fire destroyed close to 60 percent of the houses in the Huai Nam Khao refugee camp in Petchabun province in northern Thailand. The blaze took hold after a week-long demonstration in the camp, which is home to nearly 8,000 Lao Hmong refugees, to protest the arrest of a community leader and the imminent threat of a forced return to Laos.
Many of these refugees have told Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the sole nongovernmental organization working in the barbed-wire, military-controlled camp, of a life in Laos spent fleeing violent attacks and persecution, and enduring malnutrition and disease. MSF has been assisting this refugee population since 2005. MSF has called on the Thai and Lao governments to immediately stop the refugees' forced repatriation without independent monitoring and guarantees for their safety. Gilles Isard, MSF head of mission in Thailand, describes the recent events in the camp leading up to the demonstrations and fire.
Last edited by TubHmoob on December 6th 2009, 1:03 pm; edited 3 times in total