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Yet nobody who works in eastern Myanmar, where most of the refugees would have to go back to, believes that the conditions remotely exist for their safe return. Indeed, the region gives the lie to the notion that the country really is making ASEAN’s “steady progress” towards the sunny uplands of democracy and peace.To read more, visit the Website.
For a start, the low-level guerrilla war that has rumbled on between small groups of armed Karen and the Myanmar army has if anything got nastier since the election. The Thailand Burma Border Consortium, the main NGO looking after the refugees, estimates that conflict has made a further 70,000 people homeless in Kayin (formerly Karen) state in the past year, with 113 villages cleared. Often, the army orders villagers off their land to allow for mining, logging and other resource exploitation. In all, Burmese who have been internally displaced are reckoned to number over 500,000. In the past few weeks hundreds more have been fleeing over the border.
photo: corbis, The Economist