Monday, November 05, 2007

Burmese Refugees fare poorly in Thailand


The Children of the Mae Sot Dump
By Jürgen Kremb in Mae Sot, Thailand

They successfully fled the brutal military regime, but their path seldom led to a happier life. In Thailand, greedy entrepreneurs have been quick to exploit illegal immigrants from Burma. They are given the country's dirtiest jobs and they live under appalling conditions.

When a garbage truck rolls into the waste dump at Mae Sot, a city of 120,000 residents on Thailand's border with Burma, 12-year-old Ma Nge knows it's time to get moving. The dump truck barely has enough time to unload its stinky freight before an army of at least 20 children and their parents descend upon the trash in the hope of fishing out anything that could be of use. It goes without saying that whoever arrives first gets the best stuff.

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