HL Deb 23 March 1998 vol 587 cc228-9WA
Lord Alton of Liverpool

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What information they have received concerning the attack by the Burmese military which occurred this week on a Karen refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border; and what is their policy in respect of: (a) the lack of any permanent United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' presence in the camps; (b) the policy of repatriation of refugees to Burma; (c) the general security of the camps; and (d) British economic investments in Burma. [HL1030]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)

The Thai Government has confirmed that, on 11 March, Wangka refugee camp was attacked by armed forces from the Democratic Karen Buddhist Association. At least one person was killed and 25 people were injured. As EU Presidency, we made a statement on 13 March, calling on the Burmese regime to investigate the incident and to prevent such attacks in future; we also urged the Thai Government to provide adequate protection for Burmese refugees.

The UN High Commission for Refugees has a monitoring role on the Thai/Burma border. An enhanced role is a matter between the UNHCR and the Thai authorities. The British Embassy in Bangkok is in touch with the Thai Government about the security situation in the camps, and continues to press them not to repatriate refugees by force whilst the situation in Burma remains unstable. We do not encourage UK companies to trade with or invest in Burma and we have suspended government financial support for trade promotion activities in Burma.