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Mae Hong Son area

Mae Hong Son TBC Field Office

43/5 Panklawnichom Rd
Amphur Muang
MaeHongSon 58000
email: tbcmhs@theborderconsortium.org

MHS field office provides support to two camps, Mai Nai Soi and Mae Surin, in Mae Hong Son Province.

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Ban Mai Nai Soi Camp

Orientation
Ban Nai Soi is also known as Ban Tractor/ Ban Kwai, and is made up of populations from the original Karenni Camps 1, 2 and 3 prior to their consolidation

Location: Pang Moo Sub-district, Muang District, Mae Hong Son Province
Distance from Border: 4 kms in a straight line
Distance from Mae Hong Son: 26 kms / approx. 45 minutes driving time
Accessibility: Car: good, all-year-round access from sealed car road.
Phone: no mobile phone coverage
Camp Geography: Area 440 rai (70 ha)

History
Site 1 is the result of camp consolidations in 1996, during which the original Ban Tractor and Ban Kwai camps were combined into one site, with the addition of Nai Soi being included in 2002.

The original camp was established on the Karenni side of the border in 1989, and it has been moved many times since. It moved back into Burma in August 1993, but was forced back into Thailand in July 1995, following the breakdown of the Karenni ceasefire with Rangoon. Camp 1 residents joined this camp in January 1996, before it was finally moved to its present location in March of the same year.

Due to its proximity to the border, this camp is quite vulnerable. It was shelled by a combined force of Burma Army troops and its allies in January 1997, causing one death and two injuries, and Nai Soi was also shelled in September 1998 resulting in one Thai villager being wounded. During the 2005 dry season, heavy mortar shelling of nearby areas across the border could often be heard in camp. Landmines have been reported on both sides of the border near the camp, and the Burma Army has a base across the border from the Border Patrol Police post past Ban Kwai.

The camp still reflects its original geographic make-up, consisting of three main sections – Ban Tractor, Ban Kwai and Nai Soi. During this time, the population has grown from 1,714 (May 1996) to over 10,000, see “Demographics” below for more details.

Due to its isolated location, the camp is off the mains electricity grid, although the camp office, and health and education centres in the camp have access to power from electric generators. Some households also have access to these to recharge vehicle batteries to power residential lighting.

Demographics

TBC Feeding Population: 13,591 (March 2012)

Breakdown by Age
<5 Yrs
5-17 Yrs
Adult
12.7%
31.8%
55.5%
Breakdown by Gender
Female
Male
47.96%
52.04%
Breakdown by Ethnicity
Karenni
Karen
Other
93.4%
2.7%
3.9%

Resettlement (Source: IOM)
In 2005, RTG gave approval for resettlement opportunities to be offered to camp residents. Statistics for resettlement by camp are available since 2006. As of December 2011, 10,810 people have departed from Ban Nai Soi, with the majority resettling in the USA.

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Ban Mae Surin Camp

Orientation
Ban Mae Surin was previously called Karenni Camp 5 prior to consolidations in 1996.

Location: Khun Yuam Sub-district, Khun Yuam District, Mae Hong Son Province
Distance from Border: 3 kms in a straight line, 8½ kms down Mae Surin river
Distance from Mae Hong Son: 90 kms. Approx. 3 hours driving time in normal conditions
Distance from Mae Sariang:   99 kms. Approx. 3½ hours driving in normal conditions
Accessibility: Car: Generally all year round access, 4WD required in the rainy season. Local rivers can swell making access impossible.
Phone: No mobile phone coverage
Note: Due to severe restrictions of access to this camp, explicit permission papers are required.
Camp Geography: Area 190 rai (30 ha)

History
Refugees were first located here along the Mae Surin River in November 1991 and it has been the site of many of the refugee camp consolidations since.

In January 1993, most of the residents of Karenni Camp 4 moved to this site. Karenni Camp 6, located further downstream about 2 kms from the border and with a population of about 300, was moved here in July 1994. Again, in March 1998, when many of the smaller Salween camps were consolidated into what is now Mae La Oon camp, 291 Karennis relocated to Site 2 from Klo Pa camp. And in June 1998, 195 residual refugees from the original Karenni Camp 4 arrived and settled in Section 4, the first section you reach as you arrive into camp.

Unlike Site 1, this camp is so remote that it still manages to maintain strong elements of the typical villages that many of the residents originally came from, and since 2005, when the Royal Thai Government (RTG) approved registered refugees to be eligible to apply for resettlement to 3rd countries, residents of this camp have had to relocate to Ban Nai Soi (Site 1) for processing (see “Demographics” below for more details).

Due to its isolation, the camp is off the mains electricity grid, although the camp office, and health and education centres in the camp do now have access to power from electric generators. Hydro electricity is widely generated in the camp, mainly to recharge vehicle batteries to power household lighting.

This camp has never been attacked.

Demographics

TBC Feeding Population: 3,300 (March 2012)

Breakdown by Age
<5 Yrs
5-17 Yrs
Adult
12.2%
38.1%
49.7%
Breakdown by Gender
Female
Male
50%
50%
Breakdown by Ethnicity
Karen
Karenni
Other
85.22%
13.76%
1.02%

Resettlement (Source: IOM)
In 2005, RTG gave approval for resettlement opportunities to be offered to camp residents. Statistics for resettlement by camp are available since 2006. As of December 2011, 1,690 people have departed from Ban Mae Surin, with the majority resettling in the USA.

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