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Informative Essay about Refugee Camps

0 August 11 2014, 20:31 in Informative Essay

Informative Essay about Refugee Camps

The Past, Present, and Future of Karen People in Refugee Camps

The Karen people are a minority group from Burma. They were oppressed by the military regime since 1989. General Shwe led a bloody campaign against all ethnic groups in Burma. The Karen people asked for democracy and self-governance but General Shwe responded with violence, forced relocation and torture camps. Hence, over 150,000 Karen people escaped to Thailand. Now, the Karen people are situated in numerous refugee camps along the Thailand-Burma border. I live in one of these camps. Before we were forced to leave our homelands, we were subsistence farmers, growing rice and vegetables and raising animals. However, since we have been relocated to these refugee camps, a lot has changed. The desire to escape from the nightmares in our homeland and hope for a better life was changed into discrimination and sufferings.

We are now dependent on aid coming from Thailand, United States, and European Countries. There are also non-governmental organizations that provide some help too in terms of health, sanitation, women’s issues, and environmental concerns. However, the Karen refugee camps remain crowded, noisy, and polluted. Thousands of refugees are crammed into tiny bamboo huts. We rarely have electricity because only car batteries were used to give very few central lights for about five to ten houses. Because education system is not well-implemented, many children play in the streets and teenagers become chain smokers. It is sad because many young people are being recruited for slavery. The future of children and teenagers are not certain. Even our parents cannot do anything to provide better life for us (Kara, 172).

The refugees do not have the legal right to work in Thailand. Hence, they end up working without legal protection to ensure their safety. Our parents strive to get our needs amidst the difficulties. This makes them highly susceptible to false job offers. Women become sex workers or dancers. Children are recruited to illegally work for noodle factories. Men are forced to work for construction camps. In these construction camps, men work without safety measures. They live in aluminum or plastic housing in dirt floors. They do not have access to clean running water and electricity. They work more than ten hours a day; but they earn only $3 per day. Even the young people, as young as 15, are forced to work under these conditions as well. There are no legal bases to rule the working conditions of refugees. People expect us to stay inside the camp and wait for the help that other people mindlessly give to us. There are no legal guidelines that can allow us to become more productive settlers in this country and to improve our working conditions (UN Refugee Agency).

Our condition is set to become even worse because there are possibilities that we will be forced to go back to Myanmar. Thailand has expressed that it no longer wants us to stay in the country. Other countries, like the United States, have refused to accept any more application for relocation of the Karen people. Even if we would want to go back to our homeland that we have never seen, we are not safe there. The ongoing violence between the Karen National Liberation Army and the Myanmar’s military force endangers the lives of thousands of refugees should we go home (Eimer). Even if we have nowhere to go, we stand by our beliefs and tradition. Amidst the difficulties we experience in refugee camps, the Karen culture and history are being transmitted to the next generation. We remain to share a common sense of dispossession, suffering, and resistance against the Myanmar army. The nationalist sentiments inspire us to still hope and fight for a better future (Thawnghmung, 22).

Works Cited:

Eimer, David. "Karen refugees in Mae La Camp Live in Fear of Forced Return to Myanmar.” South China Morning Post. Available at <>

Kara, Siddharth.Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.

Thwanghmung, A. The Karen Revolution in Burma: Diverse Voices, Uncertain Ends. Washington DC: East-West Center, 2008.

The UN Refugee Agency. 2014 UNCHR Country Operations Profile: Thailand. Available at <>

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