EU to provide €200,000 to assist Rohingya refugees in Thai detention centres – Deeply Concerned about their Conditions (14/06/2013)

The European Union is committing €200,000 to provide humanitarian assistance to Rohingya refugees, currently being held in detention centres (men) and social welfare facilities (women and children) in Thailand. The project will be implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and will provide the Rohingya with basic household items, food and health care. The project will be monitored by the EU’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), which maintains a regional office in Bangkok. 

The funding decision was made after ECHO experts, accompanied by ECHO’s Director of Operations, Jean-Louis de Brouwer, paid a visit to one of the detention facilities in May. Some 2,000 Rohingyas, fleeing communal violence in Burma/Myanmar, were intercepted in Thailand in early 2013, while trying to reach Malaysia. Central government funding to provide food and basic care to the refugees is minimal and donations from local communities have dried up.

The Head of the EU Delegation to Thailand, David Lipman, expressed the EU’s concern about conditions in these facilities: “We are worried that the unhealthy and overcrowded conditions inside these facilities are detrimental to the health of the refugees” he explained. “Men and boys are being held in separate facilities from their families and they live in constant fear of being repatriated. We therefore urge the government to work together with international agencies in finding durable solutions for these refugees.”

Background:

Following inter-communal violence in Rakhine State in Burma/Myanmar, thousands of Rohingyas have been fleeing on boats, hoping to reach Malaysia. Since January some 2,000 Rohingya men, women and children have been detained, while trying to cross Thailand into Malaysia. Rohingya families have been split up, with women and children sent to government-run shelters separate from the men, who are placed in immigration detention centres.

Thailand is not a signatory to the 1952 Convention on the Treatment of Refugees. However, Thailand’s government agreed in January to permit Rohingya arriving by boat in Thailand to stay temporarily, initially for six months, until they could be safely repatriated to their places of origin or resettled to third countries.

The EU has repeatedly raised concerns about the fate of the Rohingya, both inside and outside Myanmar. Since the violence erupted in June 2012, ECHO has committed some €14 million to provide basic humanitarian aid to Rohingya IDPs and other victims of inter-communal violence in Rakhine State.