Since June 2013, UNHCR has been piloting a system to assess spontaneous returns in the Southeast of Myanmar, a process that may start in the absence of an organized Voluntary Repatriation operation.
A verified return village, therefore, is a village where UNHCR field staff have confirmed there are refugees and/or IDPs who have returned since January 2012 with the intention of remaining permanently. During the assessments, communities are also asked whether their village is a refugee village of origin, by definition a village that is home to people residing in a refugee camp in Thailand. A village where UNHCR completes an assessment can be both a verified return village and a refugee village of origin, as the two are not mutually exclusive.
Using a “do no harm” approach based around community level discussion, the return assessment collect information about the patterns and needs of returnees in the Southeast. The project does not, however, attempt to represent the total number of returnees in a state, or the region as a whole. The returnee monitoring project has been underway in Kayah State, Mon State and Tanintharyi Region since June 2013, and expanded to Kayin State in December 2013.