Al Jazeera: Burmese Refugees Wary Over Thailand's Changes

August 21, 2014

 Mae La, Thailand's largest refugee camp. (Credit: Dene-Hern Chen)

Mae La, Thailand's largest refugee camp. (Credit: Dene-Hern Chen)

Tha Song Yang, Thailand - Eight years ago, Saw Thi Say, 45, and his family left their home in Myanmar and relocated to a refugee camp in Thailand. They had endured the ongoing conflict between Myanmar's army and various ethnic groups in his country's northern state of Shan .

When the Burmese army confiscated their farmland in 2006, Saw Thi Say decided it was time to flee to the Thai border.

"We were forced to destroy our own crops and then they forced us to grow crops for [the army]," Saw Thi Say said. "So we came here. Our youngest was three at that time."

Mae La refugee camp, the largest in Thailand, is home to more than 40,000 people and stretches across 184 hectares along the mountain ranges of western Thailand. In operation for three decades, the majority of its residents - some of whom have lived there for just as long - are ethnic Karen who fled fighting.

"We need our children to get a good education and to have a good quality of life," the father of four daughters told Al Jazeera.

Read more at Al Jazeera