NGO - Shan Migrants
Since fighting began between the Burmese army and various Shan insurgent groups in Shan State over 50 years ago, migrants have been coming to Thailand from Burma/Myanmar in search of safety and a chance at a better life.
Thailand does not recognize people from Shan State as refugees, forcing them to apply for entry as economic migrants. Most Shan migrants reside in northern Thailand and are heavily employed in the construction sector.
As unofficial refugees, they are systematically taken advantage of by employers. Without the proper language skills and knowledge of their rights under Thai law, they are consistently underpaid and work in unsafe conditions. Past persecution from police and military forces deter migrants from seeking help.
Many fear that they will be sent back to Myanmar and have to face even worse economic conditions and ongoing conflict between government and rebel forces. Many work illegally after their permits expire, believing arrest in Thailand is better than the alternative.