Belfast Telegraph

Monday 4 May 2015

Lily Cole visits Burmese refugees

Lily Cole visits the Nai Soi refugee camp in Mae Hong Son, north east Thailand
Lily Cole visits the Nai Soi refugee camp in Mae Hong Son, north east Thailand

Lily Cole has swapped the glamour of the glossies to see the conditions faced by displaced Burmese refugees.

The model and actress visited a camp on the Thailand-Burma border, which is home to 15,000 people, some of whom have lived there for more than 20 years.

Lily, 22, made the trip as part of her role fronting Christian Aid's Christmas appeal which aims to highlight the plight of millions of refugees.

Because of security issues in the camp, she is only the second high-profile figure - after Angelina Jolie - to be allowed to visit the refugees.

Lily, who is studying for a degree at Cambridge University, visited the Nai Soi camp in Mae Hong Son, north east Thailand.

It is one of nine along the border which shelter 145,000 people. Hundreds of thousands have crossed the border to flee Burma but they are confined to the camps and many are unable to earn a living.

Lily said: "Some of the refugees have lived in these camps for 26 years. It's a difficult idea to get my head around.

"The camps offer a refuge for people who have nowhere else in the world to feel safe and secure. If the funds were removed there would be nowhere for them to go. It's frightening. There wouldn't be this space filled with so many children laughing and playing."

Christian Aid has been working with the Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) since 1985 providing food and shelter for the refugees.

Among those she met were Su Meh who arrived at the camp in 1996 after her village was razed by the Burmese military. She was given support by TBBC, which provided materials to build a home, and now earns money by weaving.

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