Slideshow - IRC
In January, George Rupp, president of the International Rescue Committee, led a delegation of IRC supporters and board members in a first-hand look at IRC programs in Thailand that address the humanitarian needs of refugees who have fled decades of civil strife, political upheaval and economic stagnation in Burma.
The group visited one of the two refugee camps the IRC serves in the province of Mae Hong Son, located in the lush mountain region on the Thailand-Burma border.
In addition to overseeing health, education, and community development programs that serve 22,000 people, the IRC provides comprehensive care for women fleeing domestic violence and has just established a legal assistance center--the first program in the world to help refugees in camps seek access to local justice systems.
A highlight of the visit to Mae Hong Son was a puppet show produced by IRC health education workers. Their entertaining and informative performance ensured that a large audience of children and their parents received vital messages about the importance of hand washing, covering their mouths when they cough, and utilizing the camp’s clinic for appropriate diagnosis and treatment when they become sick.
The delegation also traveled by canoe and by foot to a Karenni village in Mae Hong Son, one of the eight provinces where the IRC collaborates with the Thai Ministries of Health and Education, as well as a number of community-based and international organizations. The purpose of this collaboration is to provide critical health and education services targeting over 100,000 refugees and migrant workers, as well as Thai nationals who would otherwise lack access to services.
Finally, the delegation visited the Tham Hin camp, southwest of Bangkok, where the IRC serves about 10,000 people with healthcare and health education and provides potable water to all camp residents. Tham Hin is also one of two sites in Thailand (the other is in Bangkok) from which the IRC assists refugees in completing applications for consideration by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and preparing for the arduous interview process. Begun in 2005, this component of the IRC’s refugee resettlement work is expected to assist some 20,000 people in restarting their lives in the United States throughout 2007.