Australian Assistant Minister Visits Thai-Myanmar Border Refugee Camp
28/04/2017 – Australian Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs Zed Seselja yesterday (27/4) visited Mae La refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar border, which hosts over 42,000 mainly Karen refugees from Myanmar.
Seselja, who was accompanied by officials from the Australian Department of Social Services and the Australian Embassy toured the camp, visiting a vocational training school, a monastery and a library, and met with an Australia-bound refugee family in their home.
Australia, which has the third largest refugee resettlement program after the United States and Canada, accepted 13,049 refugees for resettlement in 2016 - 1,310 of them from Thailand.
Since 2004 it has accepted nearly 13,000 refugees from Thailand, almost all of them from camps on the Thai-Myanmar border.
The minister also took part in an Australian Cultural Orientation (AUSCO) class with 18 Karen refugees at the IOM Refugee Processing Centre in the neighbouring town of Mae Sot. The 5-day AUSCO programme, which is run by IOM, provides refugees with practical knowledge of Australian culture and society and prepares them for life in their new country.
“As a multicultural society with long history of immigration, Australia is proud to be a global leader in providing humanitarian assistance to refugees. The course you just completed will help you settle into new lives in Australia,” he told the refugees.
AUSCO was established in 2003 and is conducted for all Australia-bound refugees worldwide prior to their departure. Its Global Office is hosted by IOM Thailand and to date the program has assisted close to 80,000 clients worldwide.