ROHRABACHER PEACE TO ASIA TRIP
JANUARY 4 - 19, 2000

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher led a CODEL on behalf of the House International Relations Committee to the Asia-Pacific region from January 4 though 19, 2000. He was accompanied by his Special Assistant, Al Santoli, a national security and Asia-Pacific expert, and Jeffrey Baxter [traveling on private resources], an advisor on anti-ballistic missile systems and a special reserve officer with the Los Angeles Police Department Anti-Terrorism Unit. In Manila, the CODEL was joined by Paul Berkowitz, a professional staff member of the Committee. The delegation investigated national security, international crime and drug trafficking, and human rights issues in Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia and in the Golden Triangle of the Thai-Burma border.

The upcoming March national election in Taiwan marks an important milestone. For the first time in thousands of years of recorded Chinese history, a democratically elected Chinese leader, President Lee Teng-hui, will peacefully hand over power to an elected successor. At present the three-way presidential race is too close to call. The upcoming election and post-election periods present the very real danger of intimidation or violent aggression by the communist regime of the People's Republic of China.

The delegation interviewed President Lee Teng-hui; Defense Minister Fei Tang; the Joint Air and Missile Defense Command; and the Electronic & Information Warfare Command. The delegation visited Taiwan's Central Air Defense Command Center; a Patriot Missile air defense base near Taipei; and in the Taiwan Strait, visited front-line army and naval bases in the Peng Hu island archipelago, which is near the demarcation line with the PRC.

All leaders in Taiwan expressed concern about aggression from the PRC during the period during their March presidential election, the May inauguration of the new President through U.S. election period in November. The Defense Minister and high ranking flag officers believe that the PRC could try some type of tactical or covert military action, such as a missile launch or seizure of an island.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Taiwan is dangerously vulnerable to air and missile attacks. Currently, Taiwan has less than one minute warning time to prepare to defend against a ballistic missile launch by the PRC, and less than 3 minutes warning time to defend against high performance jet fighter-bombers taking of from PRC bases. Cruise missiles pose even more difficult challenges for Taiwan's defense systems. All military leaders in Taiwan and experts in other Asian countries visited by the CODEL stated that the best means to prevent PRC aggression against Taiwan during the March election and in the near future is for the United States government to rapidly upgrade Taiwan's defense capabilities. Mainland China is simply too large for Taiwan to effectively counter-attack. The USG should demonstrate its commitment by expediting delivery of early-warning radars and upgrades to Taiwan's defensive weapons systems, including enhanced anti- missile defense systems. Some Clinton Administration officials fear that such actions would provoke the PRC. However, if the USG does not deliver these urgently needed defense systems, an attack is more likely. Currently, the PRC correctly understands that Taiwan is a vulnerable to tactical air strikes and nearly defenseless against missiles. The CODEL recommends that the USG rapidly implement the following actions:

1) Provide Aegis systems: Taiwan seeks the Aegis system for naval early warning and as a backup system for its land-based national missile and air defense system. All military leaders in Taiwan stated that acquiring an Aegis system is their foremost national defense priority. Taiwan's current Patriot Pac 2-Plus system has a range of only 80 miles, which does not cover the 100 mile distance to the PRC coast. The Patriot radar system can only detect the downward trajectory of a ballistic missile. However, Aegis radar can detect the launch of a ballistic missile, which would provide vital additional time to prepare anti-missile or anti-aircraft defense.

2) Provide early-warning radars: The United States should rapidly provide much-needed early warning radar systems and components necessary to upgrade Taiwan's defensive systems during the first half of 2000. Radar systems requested by Taiwan include the AN/TPS 59 and the AN/TPS 75 systems.

3) Rapidly share DOD findings: In order for the Taiwan legislature to appropriate funds needed to rapidly purchase essential radars and defensive weapons components, the U.S. Defense Department should provide Taiwan the findings of its 1999 assessment studies by not later than February 2000. The appropriation bill for FY2001 is voted on in the legislature during mid- to late-March

4) Provide the Link 16 data sharing system: The "Link 16" system is imperative for weapons systems inter-operability. It is also essential for integrating Aegis with other air defense systems, including C4I and national missile defense.

5) Upgrade airborne early-warning assets: The USG should provide Taiwan with an upgrade to its E-2T early warning aircraft. The Link 16 would help the E2-T communicate with other land and sea based defense systems and vastly improve Taiwan's air defense capability.

6) Provide GPS Systems for Taiwan's Patriot Systems: Two years ago, the U.S. DOD promised delivery of GPS systems for Taiwan's Patriot defense systems. That promise should be immediately fulfilled.

7) Release the AMRAAM air-to-air missiles: The USG has provided Taiwan the software and training for the AMRAAM, but not the actual missile.

8) Provide Apache helicopters with advanced anti-tank weapons: Taiwan's M-60 battle tanks are a poor match for the PRC's new generation T-90 battle tanks. The best defense against the T-90s would be helicopters with advanced anti-tank capability, and/or a new generation of main battle tanks.

ROHRABACHER CODEL TO ASIA EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The PHILIPPINES

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Al Santoli, Paul Berkowitz, Jeffrey Baxter and consultant Peter Schaeffer conducted a national security fact finding visit in the Philippines from January 7 to 11, 2000. In addition to official meetings in Manila, the delegation traveled to former U.S. military bases at Subic Bay and Clarke Air Base, which have been successfully developed into economic zones. The delegation investigated communist Chinese incursions into Philippine maritime territory, international crime and counter-narcotics operations and the internal political situation with high-level military, law enforcement and government officials.

The CODEL met with Vice-President Gloria Arroyo, former-President Fidel Ramos, National Security Council Director Alex Aguirre, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes and his Joint Staff, Chief of the National Police General Panfilo Lacson and the President's Anti-Crime Task Force leaders, Chief of the Anti-Drug Task Force General J. Canson and the Armed Forces Chief for Plans and Operations Maj. General Felix Duenas, President of the National Defense College Dr. Clarita Carlos, the Speaker of the Phillipines House of Representatives Manuael Villar and key Committee Chairmen such as Congressman Roilo Golez.

SITUATION REPORT:

The Philippines is in urgent need of modernizing and upgrading its defense and law enforcement capabilities. The Philippines Armed Forces [AFP] lacks credible air and naval assets, supplies and radars. . The Philippines Armed Forces has less than five Vietnam-era fighter aircraft and a total of two naval vessels to patrol and defend 64,000 square miles of offshore territory. Both the armed forces and national police are struggling with more then 50 percent of soldiers and police living in poverty.

In the South China Sea, the People's Republic of China continues its military buildup and intimidation in the Philippines Exclusive Economic Zone [EEZ]. On Mischief Reef in the Spratley Islands, the Chinese have expanded and fortifies their structures. In addition, the CODEL saw photos of sabotage in October 1999 by Chinese commandos on Scarborough Shoal, which is located 122 nautical miles parallel to strategic Subic Bay.

Local communist insurgents, although limited in scope, have resurfaced in a number of cities and provinces and have stepped up recruitment in student, labor groups, and urban and rural barrio communities. In the southern provinces, radical Islamic armed groups - some of whom have received support from bin Laden and Khaddafi - have grown in number and have stepped up violent separatist activities. Adding to national security problems is a growing drug crisis and the expanding presence of international criminal groups, primarily the Chinese Triads.

Chinese gangs, from communist China, Hong Kong and Taiwan have flooded the country with meth-amphetamines known as "shabu." In a briefing by the Philippines national Police and the President's Anti-Crime Task Force, undercover agents told the delegation of witnessing meth-amphetamines being produced in a People's Liberation Army military base in southeastern China. The Triads are now using Muslim criminal networks to distribute "shabu" in a number of provinces. In addition, large numbers of illegal aliens from mainland China are being smuggled by boat in to the Philippines, a substantial number of whom obtain forged documents and travel to the United States.

Commanders of the Philippines Armed Forces and National Police stated that they would welcome material assistance - including excess or used equipment -- and expanded training from the United States. However, with the Philippines suffering an economic slow-down, the national budget is very limited.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

1) Jet Fighter Modernization: The United States should assist the Philippine Armed Forces [AFP] upgrade its air force needs by providing assistance in obtaining used A-4 jet fighters from New Zealand or F-5 airplanes from Saudi Arabia. The A-4 package with New Zealand would include 7 years of maintenance. Although excess A-4s in the United States, while too expensive to upgrade, could be used for spare parts for the New Zealand A-4s. The Saudi F-5s, while more expensive, could be made attractive to the Philippines with a US-assisted financing package.

2) Medium Lift Transport Aircraft: Currently, the Philippines has only three Vietnam-era C-130 transport aircraft that are able to fly. The US should provide excess C-130 or C-27 transport aircraft under Excess Defense Articles [EDA] provisions.

3) Surveillance Aircraft and FLIR Radar: The US should provide used C-12 light aircraft for surveillance under the EDA. FLIR radar for aircraft such as the C-12 or jet fighters, would permit the AFP to fly above 12,000 feet for maritime or counter-insurgency reconnaissance, which would protect the airplanes from small weapons fire.

4) Helicopters: The AFP has been promised eight UH-1 helicopters through EDA. However, with growing insurgency problems and for counter-drug coastal patrols, additional helicopters are needed.

5) Patrol boats for the Philippines Navy: Essential for maritime and coastal patrols.

6) Filipino Cadets at West Point and Annapolis: Congress should pass legislation to resume US assistance for Filipino cadets to be trained in US military academies. There have not been Filipino students admitted to the US Military Academy or the US Naval Academy since 1992. In order to maintain close cooperation between the military communities of US and the Philippines, it is imperative that at least one new Filipino cadet be accepted annually to each of the major US military academies.

7) Funding Assistance to Train AFP Personnel in the US: Congress should enact legislation to permit AFP commissioned and non-commissioned officers attend specialized training in the United States.

8) Basic Equipment for Soldiers: A substantial number of AFP soldiers and their families live in poverty. Under EDA, the US should provide uniforms, communication equipment, portable shelters and other basic needs for soldiers.

9) Material and Technical Assistance for the Philippines National Police: The US should provide the PNP material assistance to conduct counter-drug and counter-terrorism activities. Today, major narcotics traffickers in the Philippines have better communications and faster transport vehicles than law enforcement agencies. The PNP would accept used and excess vehicles, boats and communication equipment - or equipment seized from narco-traffickers -- from US federal or local agencies.

10) Basic Police Equipment: More than 60% of Philippine police officers live below the poverty line. This has contributed to corruption and less than stellar performances. Donated US police uniforms, vehicles and equipment would be very meaningful.

ROHRABACHER CODEL TO ASIA EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: CAMBODIA

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Al Santoli and Jeffrey Baxter visited Phnom Penh, Cambodia on January 14, 2000. In addition to a briefing at the US embassy, the CODEL met with King Norodom Sihanouk, Prime Minister Hun Sen, President of the National Assembly Prince Norodom Ranariddh, opposition party leader Sam Rainsy and Vice-Chairman of the Senate General Nhek Bunchay.

SITUATION REPORT:

The political situation in Cambodia is still tense with ongoing debates over the forthcoming trial of Khmer Rouge; the process for choosing a royal successor to Sihanouk; and the rules and regulations for the upcoming November local elections.

Hun Sen appears in control. The delegation told Hun Sen that the decrease in political violence in recent months is a positive development. However, in order to achieve credibility the Hun Sen government must permit the creation of an independent judicial system and that extrajudicial groups like Hun Sen's bodyguards must be disbanded and a professional police force established. The upcoming elections must be free of political violence and intimidation. In addition, Congressman Rohrabacher recommended that Hun Sen institutionalize democratic institutions by announcing that like in the United States he will set a two-term limit for himself and for all future Cambodian Presidents or Prime Ministers. In response, Hun Sen was non-committal on all of the issues raised.

The National Assembly is apparently powerless to introduce substantial new laws. However, a positive development instituted by Prince Ranariddh is the live radio broadcast of the National Assembly sessions and parliamentary debates. Evidently these broadcasts have become quite popular and are widely listened to by the Cambodian public. This is an important step in broadening the democratic process. The Prince requested US assistance in expanding the National Assembly broadcasts to television by creating a Cambodian C-Span network, which would also broadcast the Khmer Rouge trials nationwide.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

1) Assist with the creation of a C-Span-type television and radio network:

The United States, bilaterally or though international organizations should help Cambodia create a C-Span type of national television and radio network to broadcast live the Khmer Rouge trials and all sessions of the National Assembly. The broadcasts will serve the following critical purposes:

  • Educate the public and institutionalize democracy.
  • Will be a tool for a national catharsis on the Khmer Rouge period, if the trials are conducted credibly.
  • By televising the judicial process, the broadcasts will emphasize the need for a credible judiciary and help to end the era of impunity.

2) Judicial Reform: The US should provide training and exchange programs for Cambodian lawmakers and legal professionals, through government agencies and NGOs.

3) Election Monitors: Local elections are scheduled for November 2000. The United States and international agencies should rapidly begin recruiting international election monitors and implement training for indigenous Cambodian election monitors. Funds should be provided for USAID, IRI and NDI to be more active.

4) Technical assistance to the National Assembly: The US Government and NGOs should provide technical and communications assistance for the National Assembly, such as personal computers and fax machines. USAID or USIA should sponsor Cambodian Assembly members and elected local government officials to visit the United States in a program similar to the Russian program that was developed last year.

5) Assistance for the O'Smach Camp royalist soldiers and their families:

The US should support a humanitarian program through USAID and NGOs to assist the royalist soldiers and their families who were refugees at O'Smach in Thailand to be reintegrated with adequate housing in Cambodia. Population: 70,000 persons.

6) All US assistance should continue to be distributed through NGOs: Government corruption is still rampant. The Congress should appropriate humanitarian and pro-democracy programs. However, all US government assistance should continue to be distributed through NGOs. It is premature to provide any Pentagon assistance to the Cambodian military or to initiate any new contact between the U.S. and Cambodian militaries.

ROHRABACHER CODEL TO ASIA EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: THAILAND and GOLDEN TRIANGLE

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Al Santoli and Jeffrey Baxter conducted a national security fact finding visit in Thailand and in the Golden Traingle area of the Thai-Burma border from January 11 to 18, 2000. In addition to official meetings in Bangkok and Mae Hong Son, the delegation traveled to refugee villages on the Burma border where Thailand provides safe haven Burmese refugees from the Karenni and Karen tribal groups. The delegation investigated threats to Thailand by the Burmese SLORC junta and Wa United Army tribal drug forces in Burma who are collaborating with the Chinese People's Liberation Army and the SLORC. In addition, the CODEL investigated international crime by Chinese Triads and Russian Mafia gangs, Thai-US counter-narcotics operations, and the internal political situation in Thailand.

The CODEL had discussions with high-level military, law enforcement and government officials, including National Intelligence Agency Director Bhumarat Thaksadipong and senior officials; Secretary General of the National Security Council Khachadpai Burusapatana; Minister of Foreign Affairs Surin Pitsuwan; Chief of Political-Military Affairs for Foreign Ministry Lt. General Sanan Kajornklam; Coordinator for Refugee Affairs for Ministry of Defense Maj. General Schlitt Arthayukti; Chief, Transnational Crime Branch of National Intelligence Agency Mr. Supohat Junka & staff, Dep. Commander of Special Branch of National Police Col. Tritot Ronnaritivichai; Secretary General of the Princess Mother's Medical Volunteer Foundation Dr. Kamol Sindhvananda; Karenni Foreign minister Abel Tweed; U.S. Regional refugee Coordinator Jeffrey rock; journalist and author Bertil Lintner; U.S. Ambassador Richard Hecklinger and Embassy team.

SITUATION REPORT:

Thailand remains a democratic oasis surrounded by military dictatorships in Burma and Laos, an unstable kleptocracy in Cambodia and increasing political repression in Malaysia. The political and security situation in Thailand appears relatively stable, with an easing of the 1998-99 regional economic crisis. However, Thai officials expressed concern that political violence and the proliferation of drugs in Burma remains a major threat to Thailand's stability. In addition, although it is unspoken in public for political and cultural reasons, there is widespread concern about the health of King Bhumibol, who has not appeared at public ceremonies recently and was not able to receive the CODEL for a brief audience.

Above all, for nearly a half-century, the King has been the key to political and ethnic stability and the benefactor for the evolution of democracy in Thailand. There are reasons to be concerned about the eventual succession to the throne of a new monarch, who may not have the same moral status as King Bhumibol. This could fragment the Thai military and political leadership, as well as lead to instability in the impoverished north and Muslim south of the country.

The Drug Trade and Internal Security:

The proliferation of drug use, especially meth-amphetamines produced in China and Burma, is a major internal security problem in Thailand. Thai officials estimate some 30 million amphetamine pills flooded into the country in 1999. Most of these drugs were consumed inside of Thailand, increasingly by students, as young as elementary school and in upscale dance clubs, mixed with the drug Ecstasy. Meth pills sell on the street for 10 baht [25 cents].

The amphetamines are produced in the Golden Triangle, in southern China and across the border in Burma, near the Thai border town of Chiang Rai, by the Wa United Army and Chinese People's Liberation Army, and trafficked to Thailand by the same groups. In Thailand, drug distribution is conducted by organized crime gangs, primarily Chinese Triads, with ties to mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. These same organized crime groups are involved in heroin smuggling from the Golden Triangle through Thailand. The heroin is largely trafficked for overseas transfer, especially to the United States. While the CODEL was in Bangkok, the Thai National Police and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency collaborated on the seizure of a load of 126 kilos of heroin at Bangkok International Airport with a street value of $375 million. Those arrested were local members of the "14K" Chinese Triad.

Six months ago the "14K Triad" from Hong Kong began an opium smuggling operation from Burma [Wa area] to Bangkok. With help from DEA, the 126 kilo shipment of pure heroin was captured at Bangkok International Airport. There is a suspected Burmese connection in this case to Kun Sa and Lao Ta. Lao Ta was arrested in Thailand, escaped, but fled to Burma. Kun Sa's gang still operates, but he stays in the background in Rangoon. The profits from heroin are invested into amphetamine production. The Thai intelligence community says that Kun Sa is still involved. He shares profits with SLORC.

The Russian mafia is also very active in Thailand, primarily in the resort area of Pattaya. These gangs largely conduct their activities within a very large Russian tourist community, an average of 30,000 to 40,000 tourists per year who arrive on charter flights from Russia. [See CODEL transcript notes for a names and details of Russian mafia gangs and criminal leaders active in Thailand.]

External Security Threats and Role of Chinese PLA in Burma:

The dominant external security concern for Thailand is the on going SLORC military campaigns near Thailand's border and rampant drug trafficking in Burma. The SLORC has the backing of China's People's Liberation Army which supplies weapons and is developing land, air and naval bases throughout Burma. The main conduit for PLA activities in the Wa United Army. The Wa tribe homeland straddles the border of China and Burma. Besides heavy involvement in the drug trade, the Wa were the soldiers of the Burmese Communist Party and are still armed by the Chinese People's Liberation Army, wear PLA uniforms and have always had PLA officers commanding their ranks.

The Wa are helping the PLA extend their influence and control in the Golden Triangle area by relocating military units and thousands of villagers from the China border to the northwest Thai border, across from Chiang Rai. The Wa/PLA forces are moving into areas and trafficking routes that were previously dominated by the Shan tribe of Kun Sa. Recently there has been fighting between Shan units that broke away from Kun Sa who have attempted to deter the Wa. The Shan group is led by Cha Yot, a break-away officer from Kun Sa, who has organized his own forces to attack the Wa/PLA. There are additional reports that other Wa United Army units have moved to the Burma-India border, which according to the Far Eastern Economic review, has raised concerns in New Delhi.

The CODEL is concerned about a large airfield that the Chinese have built some 40 miles south of Mandalay, Burma. A reporter for a credible Western news agency recently visited and set foot on the runway of this air field, which is reportedly large enough to handle military cargo aircraft.

Burmese Refugees in Thailand:

There are currently 116,000 registered Burmese refugees in Thai camps: They include: 88, 795 Karen tribal people; 16,630 Karennis and 10,622 Mons. Here are tens of thousands of unregistered Burmese refugees living in Thailand outside of the camps. Tragic recent incidents of hostage taking by splinter groups of ethnic Burmese students and a small Karen religious sect, have intensified calls in Thailand to force back all refugees. This would have tragic consequences because of ongoing violent campaigns by the SLORC against the tribal peoples and Burmese pro-democracy organizations. The Karens and Karennis have no history of involvement in the drug trade and fought as allies alongside the U.S. military during World War II.

The CODEL visited Mae Hong Son province, in the Golden Triangle, where more than 16,750 Karennis living in four camps. Many others live unregistered along the border. During 1999, some 2,000 new Karenni refugees entered camps in Mae Hong Song area. An estimated 18,000 unregistered Karennis live outside of the camps. An additional 19,000 Karen [a separate tribe] refugees live in two camps in Mae Hong Son. These refugees are living in relative peace. However, the Governor of Mae Hong Son and other Thai officials told the CODEL that additional assistance is needed from the international community in order for asylum to be sustained.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

1) Transnational Crime: The U.S. Government should continue to cooperate in development of a Transnational Crime Center in Thailand. In conducting transnational crime investigations, information on international criminal groups, especially the Chinese Triads and Russian mafia, should be shared with U.S. agencies and U.S. embassies in the region.

2) Wa/PLA drug trafficking: The U.S. government should work with Thai authorities to develop an action plan, working with elements inside of Burma, to interdict Wa/PLA drug traffickers and to drive the Wa off of Thailand's border, especially in areas previously controlled by the Shan.

3) Monitor PLA role in Burma: The U.S. Government should closely monitor the growing role of the Chinese People's Liberation Army in Burma, including requesting satellite reconnaissance of airfields and naval facilities being developed by the PLA.

4) Burmese Refugees: The U.S. Government should increase efforts to work with the UNHCR and bilaterally to assist Thailand with humanitarian and maerial needs necessary to sustain asylum for Burmese refugese. [See CODEL Executive Summary on Karenni Refugees for details.]

ROHRABACHER CODEL TO ASIA EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: BURMESE KARENNI REFUGEES

The delegation visited Refugee camps for the Karenni tribal refugees from Burma in Mae Hong Son Province of Thailand, located in the Golden Triangle area of the mountainous Thai-Burma border on January 15-16, 2000. Congressman Rohrabacher, Al Santoli and Jeff Baxter were accompanied by US State Department Regional Refugee Officer Jeff Rock, Karenni Foreign Minister Abel Tweed, International Rescue Committee Dr. Robin Nandy and local Thai officials.

In Burma, the SLORC regime continues persecuting and forcibly relocating Karenni villagers from Karenni State. Some Karennis are forced to be porters and human mine detectors in SLORC army. Others are forced to join "militia" to be SLORC shock troops or cannon fodder against brother Karennis. There is a free fire zone by SLORC on Burma side Salawin River near mountainous border. New arrivals came during the dry season - December through May. The largely Christian Karennis do not have a record of any sort of drug trafficking and were allies of the US during World War II.

Thailand has been generous in permitting the Karennis to build mountainside village-type camps for temporary asylum. The situation in Burma remains extremely hazardous for the Karennis. In order to persuade the Thai government to sustain asylum, the US Congress should continue to appropriate earmarked funds to support the camps. In addition, to create good will among the Thais, US NGOs can provide support and materials to assist local Thai villagers.

CAMPS:

Currently more than 16,750 Karennis living in four camps in Mae Hong Son. Many others live unregistered along border outside of camps. During 1999, some 2,000 new Karenni refugees entered camps in Mae Hong Song area. An estimated 18,000 unregistered Karennis live outside of the camps. An additional 19,000 Karen [a separate tribe] refugees live in two camps in Mae Hong Son. Total registered Burmese tribal refugees in Thai camps: 116,000. These include: 16,630 Karennis; 88,795 Karens; and 10,622 Mons.

The annual budget for the Karenni camps is around $1.5 million [does not include education or food]. The total annual budget for refugees in Karenni area is $3.5 million. The US provides around half of that sum.

MEDICAL NEEDS:

In the Karenni camps, the International Rescue Committee and the Jesuit relief Service provide medical care. The IRC is training Karennis to be medical assistants in camp clinics. USAID provides some funding for camps, as does the UNHCR. Additional funding comes from the relief agencies and the Thai government.

Medicines and Medical Texts: The entry camp for Karennis at Ban Noi Soi can always use donated medicines. The IRC doctors and Karenni leaders said that there is a need for medical text books in English language. Donations of medical texts would be appreciated. The IRC and their Karenni employees could translate English texts into Burmese.

Dental Care: Another glaring need is for dentists and dental supplies. The IRC would coordinate with volunteer dentists who would like to volunteer in camps. Need mobile and portable manual dental equipment. Also, would like dentists to provide texts in English and train local Karennis in camp to perform basic dental care. No electricity in camp, so cannot use high tech equipment.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

The Thai government in Mae Hong Son feels that the UNHCR is unfairly leaving them with an expense burden for refugee camps. To sustain asylum for the refugees, the following issues should be addressed:

1) Budget: The Province government has no budget for the camps. Money spent on refugee care is taken out of resources for local infrastructure projects. The UNHCR registers refugees, but does not compensate the local government. The governor asked UNHCR to discuss local needs last year, but UNHCR declined. The Thai Ministry of Interior asked UNHCR for $750,000 to reimburse the local government for three Karenni camps and two Karen camps in Mae Hong Son, a total of some 40,000 refugees.

2) Forest depletion: The refugees need for firewood from already deforested areas. The NGOs are promoting turning rice husks into charcoal. However, farmers need the husks for fertilizer. Instead, the governor suggests processing sawdust into artificial logs, from lumber mills throughout northern Thailand. The Governor previously conducted a similar successful project for cooking fuel for Hmong refugees in Loei province. The USAID, NGOs or the UNHCR could help with the cost for a sawdust log project.

3) Donated US equipment: The Governor agreed that if the UNHCR doesn't have the cash to reimburse the local Thai government, that it would be acceptable to be reimbursed in donated new or second-hand equipment that would help the local infrastructure in Mae Hong Son. The Governor will send a list of needed equipment and technology to Congressman Rohrabacher through the Thai Embassy in Washington. Al Santoli will share the list with NGOs.


All content COPYRIGHT SOFTWAR (C) 2000. Any reproduction or use of content herein must be approved by SOFTWAR.


All content COPYRIGHT SOFTWAR (C) 2000. Any reproduction or use of content herein must be approved by SOFTWAR.