- Camps in Thailand
- Camp Organisation
Mae La Oon
Sob Moei District, Mae Hong Son Province
Distance from Border
2 km in a straight line, 3 km down the Yuam River
Distance from Mae Sariang
- Sob Moei, approx. 75 kms/ 2½ hours driving time in normal conditions
- Mae Sam Laep, 90 kms/ 3½ hours driving time in normal conditions
Car: all-year-round access; 4WD + chains required in the rainy season
Boat: access from Mae Saam Laep (or Mae Ngao with 5 hour walk)
Phone: no mobile phone coverage. Mobile phone coverage is available in a nearby village approx. 20 mins away.
Note: Due to its isolated location, arrangements can be made for visitors to sleep overnight in the camp
Area 800 rai (320 ha)
Introduction and History
Mae La Oon is built on a hilly area around the banks of the Yuam River. The population of around 11,700 persons is 99 percent ethnic Karen/Kayin.
Mae La Oon is a result of a history of refugee camp consolidations in the MaeSariang/Salween area. These included Mae Yeh Hta, U Dah, Klo Pa, Mae S’Ku, Ban Sala and Mae Khong Kha.
In September 2002, the camp experienced a devastating ‘flash flood’. Tragically, 26 refugees lost their lives in the flooding. There was major damage to camp infrastructure. Over 250 houses were destroyed and another 230 were severely damaged. Two high schools, eight primary schools, one nursery, four camp administration offices, five NGO offices, four reception centres and two OPD clinics were also destroyed. The Thai authorities coordinated with NGOs and the UNHCR to mount a rapid emergency relief effort.
Due to its isolation, the camp is off the mains electricity grid. The camp office and health, education and social centres in the camp have access to power from electric generators.
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In 2005, the Royal Thai Government gave approval for resettlement opportunities to be offered to camp residents. As of December 2013, 8,840 people have departed from Mae La Oon. The majority resetted in the USA and Australia.