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Aung San Suu Kyi visited one of TBC's refugee camps, Mae La camp, in June 2012.

Aung San Suu Kyi visited Mae La camp in Thailand

On June 2nd 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi visited the Mae La refugee camp in Thailand. The camp is the home of almost 50 000 Burmese people, who have fled the oppression in their country.

A warm welcome

Aung San Suu Kyi 's visit brought with it excitement, anticipation and an energy seldom seen in the camps, says Diakonia's partner organization TBC.

The Border Consortium (TBC) is a consortium of 12 international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from ten countries, including Diakonia, providing food, shelter and non-food items to refugees and displaced people from Myanmar/Burma. Apart from the concrete works in the camps, TBC also engages in research on the root causes of displacement and refugee outflows.

After meeting with groups and organizations working in the camps, Aung San Suu Kyi was driven through the crowds. People were lining the path-way, chanting ‘Ma Suu’ and waving flags emblazoned with the flag of the National League for Democracy.

The camps need further assistance - as well as people in Burma

Aung San Suu Kyi acknowledged that now is the wrong time to decrease assistance in camps, but the right time to increase assistance in Myanmar/Burma.

Three major challenges for the refugees

She expressed concern about three major challenges that the refugees are currently facing in Thailand:

a lack of opportunities for youth

the lack of registration

a reduction in services in the camps due to funding shortages

In the limited time she spent in the camp, her message was clear: there is a lot to be done in Myanmar/Burma before the refugees can return, but their plight must not be forgotten:

"For our people to return, we have to provide peace and prosperity."