31 December 2013 |

Thailand: Internal displacement in brief

As of December 2013


There is no official data on the number of people displaced in Thailand by the ten-year conflict between the government and Malay Muslim separatist groups in the southern provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala. What is known is that among those trying to escape the violence, the region’s Buddhist minority has been disproportionately affected with at least 20 per cent forced to flee their homes since 2004.

The conflict showed no sign of abating in 2013, with insurgents continuing to carry out indiscriminate attacks against representatives and symbols of the Thai state, including teachers and schools. The security forces’ counterinsurgency campaigns were often accompanied by reports of human rights violations.

Most displacements have taken place from rural to urban areas inside the three provinces, with the dispersed Buddhist population regrouping in safer enclaves. Others have chosen to leave the region. Buddhists have moved to neighbouring provinces or to large cities such as Bangkok, while Malay Muslims have settled, often temporarily, in neighbouring Malaysia. IDPs who have stayed in the region remain exposed to low-level violence, but those who have left have reportedly managed to achieve some form of durable solution. Their main concerns tend to relate to the land and property they left behind.

The government’s efforts in recent years have mainly aimed to prevent a further decline in the Buddhist population. In 2012 it set up a fund to buy IDPs’ land to encourage them to return. In February 2013, the government started formal peace talks with Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), one of the main insurgent groups, but they are yet to yield concrete results.