Lao authorities organized a trip for an EU delegation to visit a Hmong village in Vangvieng district to see the living conditions of the Hmong refugees who were repatriated from Thailand.
Mr. Yong Chanthalangsy, Lao MOFA spokesperson accompanied the EU delegation to Ban Pha-Thao earlier this month. Pha-Thao is a village in Vientiane province where more than 200 families of Lao Hmongs were resettled after they were sent back from refugee camps in Thailand under the assistance of UNHCR in 1994.
Among the 217 families who came back, almost 200 families now have their own house and a plot of land for farming. Mr. Say Xia Xiong, the Pha-Thao village head said their living condition is getting better; they can travel any where they want and their children have a chance to attend at least primary school.
The visit took place amid a report that Lao authorities use military forces against the Hmongs who are hiding in the jungle, which is one of the main concerns that forced some of the Hmongs to escape from Laos to Thailand to live in Phetchabun province.
In the face of this allegation, the director of Human Rights Watch has called on the Thai government to stop the forced return of the Hmong asylum seekers to Laos without independent monitoring or refugee screening.
Human Rights Watch issued a statement after Thai soldiers reportedly used police dogs to force 11 Lao Hmongs from a camp in Petchabun onto a truck for repatriation to Laos on February 28, one day before Thai PM, Mr. Samak Sundaravej, visited Laos.
Thai officials say these 11 Hmong went back to Laos voluntarily.
Listen to our Laos Today report for more details in Lao.