Refugee and Migration Affairs
Refugee and Migration Affairs (RMA) Bangkok oversees issues surrounding refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and migrants in the East Asia and Southeast Asia regions. The office's primary tasks are to provide assistance to refugees and facilitate their resettlement to the U.S. The office also coordinates protection advocacy for refugees and vulnerable people with UNHCR and regional U.S. Embassies.
Thailand is home to approximately 140,000 recognized refugees from Burma. There are nine camps along the Thai-Burma border. In cooperation with the Royal Thai Government, The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) (an NGO contracted by the U.S. government to assist processing resettlement), in 2005 the U.S. government started a resettlement program in Tak and Ratchaburi Provinces. The operation will expand to Mae Hong Son and Kanchanaburi Provinces this year. As of October 1, 2008, 33,512 Burmese refugees have departed and resettled in various places in America. Almost all came from Thailand and Malaysia. During the period October 2007-September 2008, RMA Bangkok resettled more refugees to the U.S. than any other U.S. Embassy office in the world.
Assistance to refugees is also an integral part of RMA's work. RMA works closely with UNHCR and NGOs and provides funds to assist projects in the health, gender-based violence and water/sanitation sectors, among others. Current assistance programs in the region are found in Thailand, Malaysia, Burma, and Bangladesh, and total $32 million (including the contribution to regional operations of international organizations such as UNHCR).
RMA is headed by a Refugee Coordinator and supported by two American staff (Deputy and Assistant Refugee Coordinator) and three Thai staff (Program Assistant, Office clerk, and Driver).