UMPIUM, 28 April 2009 (IRIN) – Several blue and white buses of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are about to depart Umpium refugee camp of some 20,000 people in Thailand, close to the Myanmar border. The buses are filled with dozens of Burmese refugees who are beginning their resettlement journeys to countries as diverse as Australia, Norway, New Zealand and the United States. Most had fled Myanmar years, even decades, ago, fearing persecution and longing for a better life.
It is a scene that has been repeated hundreds of times since 2004 when the Burmese refugee resettlement programme first began. As of January 2009, some 43,000 have been resettled. Another 13,000 are expected to be resettled this year, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).