Helping the Shan Refugees in Thailand

Situation in Burma

A military junta controlled Burma from 1962 to 2010, during which time the country’s economic and educational systems deteriorated so much that more than one million children were deprived of an education, as were many of their parents. A large number of the illiterate belong to the Shan ethnic group.

In 2010, under a constitution drafted by the military government, a military-dominated civilian government was voted into office. Persecution of ethnic groups, including the Shan, continues.

When Shan families can no longer survive in Burma, when their homes and lands have been confiscated, or when they cannot earn a living because the economy is in shambles, they flee to Thailand. In Thailand, they do not have official refugee status and are not the recipients of international aid, but are considered migrants and work at the worst jobs the country has to offer. They receive subsistence wages, seldom enough to allow them to feed their families and send their children to school. Without an education, the children are at great risk of being lured into the sex and drug trades in Thailand.

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