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Myanmar(Burma)Refugee Camp

The refugee issue has been a problem for 30 years at the border of Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) since the influx began in 1984. Following the democratization of Myanmar in 2010, efforts for the cease-fire and peace agreement between the armed minority groups and the Myanmar government have been progressing little by little. However, since the conditions for voluntary repatriation have not yet been met, the refugees must stay in the refugee camps for some more time, in preparation for repatriation.

The SVA is carrying out reading promotion activities in school education in the Myanmar refugee camps in a three-year project through 2015, aiming to promote reading and cultural activities.

In 2014, we will cooperate with the Karen Refugee Committee Education Entity (KRCEE) to enhance the knowledge and skills of related organizations and individuals to promote reading. In addition, the SVA will play a role as the informant about the future of refugees in cooperation with the Karen Refugee Committee, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the Committee for Coordination of Services to Displaced Persons in Thailand.

We will strive for the benefit of the 120,000 refugees in nine refugee camps in total. We will develop a reading environment for the 40,000 students in 150 schools located in the seven refugee camps where many Karens live.

In terms of management and operation, we will strengthen the knowledge, skills and experience of the local staff through seminars, so as to establish office and project management led by the local staff. The current Deputy Director of our local office will participate in an NGO management training program (approximately three months) in Tokyo from January to April, 2014.

2015 Activity Report

Training Programs for Library Activity to Take Root and Shelf Arramgement at Library in Preparation for Voluntary Repatriation

Community library in Nupo refugee camp ©Yoshifumi Kawabata

Mae La Oon refugee camp ©Yoshifumi Kawabata

In 2015, Myanmar experienced a great political turning point. The Myanmar Army and the Ethnic Armed Groups came to agree on ceasefire, so it is expected that many refugees return home in these few years. Meanwhile in refugee camps, the international support is decreasing year by year and more NGOs are closing their offices or downsizing their activities. Moreover, many refugees are little optimistic about realization of the repatriation.

The SVA now operates 21 community libraries in seven refugee camps. One of the challenges in our business is that the outflow of residents from refugee camps for resettlement has caused the community library management anchored by residents to face difficulties. To solve this problem, we conduct training programs for camp committee members and librarians to encourage them to keep proactive in the library management.

We also organized training programs for teachers in charge of nursery, primary and secondary education to learn how to utilize books as supplement teaching materials for the better quality of education. In addition, we shelved at the libraries books, newspapers, magazines, and educational books which we bought in Myanmar for the residents in the refugee camps to gain knowledge and information about Myanmar as a preparation for their future repatriation.