Thailand 24 Mar 2011 00:00
Along the Thai-Burmese border, the town of Mae Sot has become a refuge for many Burmese immigrant families. Thousands of citizens of Myanmar (formerly Burma) cross the border to escape from the still ongoing conflict between Burmese armed forces and ethnic minorities. They also look for a better economic condition.
According to government statistics, there are at least two million Burmese nationals working in Thailand; at least three quarters of them are illegal. This status and the lack of connection forces many people to live at a large garbage dump just outside of Mae Sot.
By collecting recyclable materials, people can make about 100 baht (2.5 euros) per day. At present, approximately fifty families are living in bamboo huts built on mountains of waste. The children begin to work in the dump even at the age of 6 or 7, but it is around 11 or 12 when they get more involved with the landfill. They have to help their parents to collect trash or care for the whole household. Despite the terrible condition, children have to survive at the dump site as their parents feel Thailand is much more safe than the Burmese jungle where they would be killed or die of malnourishment