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Mae Sot area

Mae Sot TBC Field office

11/22 Soi Ruamrang
Moo Ban Naifun, Intarakhiree Road
Mae Sot
Tak 63110
email: tbcmst@theborderconsortium.org

Mae Sot field office provides support to 1 camp: Mae La in Tak Province.

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Mae La

Orientation
Mae La is also known as ‘Beh Klaw’ in Karen language, which means ‘cotton field’ due to the agricultural activities for which Karen leaders first negotiated permission for refugees to cross into the area in 1984.

Location: Mae La Sub-district, Tha Song Yang District, Tak Province
Distance from Border: 8 kms in a straight line
Distance from Mae Sot: 57 kms, approx. 1 hour driving time
Accessibility: Car: Good, all-year-round access from sealed road (public transport available)
Phone: Good mobile phone coverage in most parts of the camp
Internet: Privately-run internet services available in camp
Camp Geography: Area 1,150 rai (184 ha)

History
The camp was originally established following the fall of the KNU base at the Thai village of Mae La on the border in 1984 with a population of 1,100. Shortly afterwards, due to security concerns, it was moved to the site where Zone C currently lies. After the fall of Manerplaw (KNU headquarters in Karen State, Burma) in January 1995, a number of camps were attacked in cross-border raids and the Thai authorities began to consolidate camps to improve security. Mae La was designated as the main consolidation camp in the area.

In April 1995, Mae La increased in size from 6,969 to 13,195 due to the closure of five camps to the north – Mae Ta Waw, Mae Salit, Mae Plu So, Kler Kho and Ka Mawlay Kho and the move of Huay Heng later in October of the same year. Over the following year, the camp doubled in size again to 26,629 as those lost in the move came back into the camp. In March 1997, some people were relocated to Mae La following the closure of Huai Bone camp and again in February 1998 when Shoklo camp was closed.

The camp has been the focus of several military attacks. It was infiltrated by Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) troops in 1997 with support from Burma Army units. The DKBA is a faction of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) which split off and aligned itself with the Burma Army in 1994. There have been no incursions since then, although a mortar shell landed in Section A5 in March 1998. Every dry season, this area is quite tense with concerns relating to camp security – threats of armed attack and/or attempts to burn down the camp.

In more recent years, the area of Karen State opposite Mae La camp has been the scene of substantial conflict, with the DKBA and Burma Army deposing the KNLA from its headquarters in 2009. The area is now under the control of the newly transformed DKBA as a Border Guard Force under the Burma Army.

Due to its size, Mae La has a wide range of educational opportunities and is considered a centre of study for refugees, so the current population includes a few thousand students who come to study in the camp (some from other camps, but mostly from Burma). They are registered only as temporary inhabitants.

In 2008, mobile phone coverage was made available to the camp, and this has also facilitated privately-run Internet services in the community.

A year later, the camp was connected to the mains electricity grid, and the camp office, most health, education and social centres, as well as a number of households in the camp now have access to 24 hour-a-day electricity.

Demographics

TBC Feeding Population: 46,133 (March 2012)

Breakdown by Age
<5 Yrs
5-17 Yrs
Adult
10.8%
33.8%
55.4%
Breakdown by Gender
Female
Male
50%
50%
Breakdown by Ethnicity
Karen
Burman
Other
83.9%
2.87%
13.23

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, 23,120 persons had departed from Mae La, with the majority resettling in the USA.

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Umphang TBC Field office

798/1 Moo1
T.UMphang
Tak 63170
Email: tbcupg@theborderconsortium.org

Umphang field office provides support to 2 camps: Umpiem Mai and Nu Po, in Tak Province.

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Umpiem Mai

Orientation

Location: Khirirat Sub-district, Phop Phra District, Tak Province
Distance from Border: about 12 kms in a straight line
Distance from Mae Sot: 87 kms, approx. 1½ hours driving time
Accessibility: Car: Good, all-year-round access from sealed road (public transport available)
Phone: Good mobile phone coverage in most parts of the camp
Internet: Privately-run internet services available in camp
Camp Geography: Area 493 rai (79 ha)

History
The former Wangka and Mawker camps were relocated to Phop Phra district in mid-to-late 1999. The camps were relocated due to security concerns as Burmese forces had repeatedly attacked both camps. (In March 1998, Wangka camp was 80% burnt to the ground and 4 people killed, the camp had also been attacked in 1997 and 1996). The decision to locate the new camp near a Hmong village called Umpiem Mai was made by the Thai authorities.

Umpiem Mai was initially a harsh environment with little tree cover, torrential rain and a cold climate (the altitude is over 1,200 metres). The camp is situated on very hilly terrain and there was a significant danger from soil erosion particularly during the rainy season.

Over the first year, the camp saw some significant programmes initiated to ensure the integrity of the environment and to help promote a more pleasant living area. COERR and UNHCR surveyed the area and developed tree-planting programmes along with soil erosion projects. Water supply provided by ARC is available in all sections of the camp, however as new arrivals build houses higher up the slopes their availability to piped water is compromised. Nonetheless, the water supply for the camp is so far sufficient even during the hot season.

In August 2009, mobile phone coverage was made available to the camp, and this has also facilitated privately-run e-mail and Internet services in the community. One year later, in September 2010, the camp was connected to the main electricity grid, with the camp committee and most health, education and social service centres now having access to 24 hour-a-day electricity.

Demographics
TBC Feeding Population: 17,159 (March 2012)

Breakdown by Age
<5 Yrs
5-17 Yrs
Adult
 
10.4%
31.7%
57.9%
 
Breakdown by Gender
Female
Male
 
51.49%
48.51%
 
Breakdown by Ethnicity
Karen
Burman
Mon
Other
74.47%
14.07%
3.56%
7.9%

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, 10,270 persons have departed from Umpiem Mai – the majority resettling in the USA.

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Nu Po

Orientation
Nu Po is also commonly spelt Nopho/ Noh Hpo, and means “small lake” in Karen language.

Location: Mae Chan Sub-district, Umphang District, Tak Province
Distance from Border: 8 kms in a straight line, 13 kms by road to the border village of Perng Klerng
Distance from Mae Sot: 232 kms / approx. 5 hours driving time
Distance from Umphang: 68 kms / approx. 1½ hours driving time
Accessibility: Car: All-year-round access (public transport available)
Phone: No mobile phone coverage, although a landline was set up at the camp office (Oct 2010); public phone available at MoI office
Camp Geography: Area about 400 rai (64 ha)

History
Nu Po camp was set up in March 1997 after a major offensive during which the Burma Army took control of Duplaya District in Karen State. It was established to consolidate the existing refugee populations of Meteroke and Baw Ner Hta camps (both were set up in 1992 and had populations of 4,595 and 2,078 respectively) and to house new arrivals fleeing from the current offensive. The original caseload was predominantly of Karen ethnicity, with a significant Muslim contingent.

Currently, due to its isolated location, the camp is off the mains electricity grid, although the camp office, health, education and social service centres in the camp have access to power from electric generators. Hydro electricity is also widely generated in the camp, mainly to recharge vehicle batteries to power household lighting. Several privately-operated mobile phone and internet services exist in the camp.

Demographics
TBC Feeding Population: 14,994 (March 2012)

Breakdown by Age
<5 Yrs
5-17 Yrs
Adult
 
11%
33.5%
55.4%
 
Breakdown by Gender
Female
Male
 
49.82%
50.18%
 
Breakdown by Ethnicity
Karen
Burman
Mon
Other
77.76%
9.17%
1.85%
11.22%

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, 6,290 persons have departed from Nu Po – the majority resettling in the USA.

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