The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) says Thai and Lao authorities still refuse to allow its representatives to visit and screen the Hmong refugees at Ban Huay Nam Khao in Thailand's Phetchbun province.
Lao and Thai officials do not consider the matter of the Huay Nam Khao Hmongs a refugee issue, but an immigration one. The two sides have agreed to repatriate all the Hmongs by the end of 2008. And Laos has made preparations to take them back and resettle them. It says the Hmongs are economic, not political, refugees.
The Hmongs, however, say they fled Laos because of persecution by
government troops because of their ancestors' CIA connections.
The Paris-based, international, medical charity group Medicins Sans Fontiers or Doctors Without Borders, who has been providing helps to the refugees at Ban Huay Nam khao for the past three years, believes their claims are legitimate.
Listen to our Laos Today report for more details in Lao.