HI was set up in Thailand in 1982 by two French doctors. It started out trying to help the refugees living in camps set up along the border with Cambodia, offering orthopaedic fitting to people with disabilities or those who had lost limbs as a result of landmine accidents. By 1984, HI was also helping refugees from Myanmar, and soon Thai people, who had also fallen victim to anti-personnel landmines. These activities in the country led to the opening of fifteen orthopaedic fitting workshops, which now form part of Thailand’s network of provincial hospitals.
Since 1996, the organisation focuses its action on nine Burmese refugee camps and on the neighbouring Thai villages. It enhances the self-reliance of people with disabilities by supplying physiotherapy sessions and locally produced prostheses and adapted devices (orthoses, crutches, walkers, etc.).
Pending the clearance of landmines from the border areas between Myanmar and Thailand, HI is raising refugees’ awareness of the dangers posed by mines and other explosive remnants of war. These awareness-raising actions should reduce the risks they will face when they will return to Myanmar.
HI also runs a social inclusion project for refugees with disabilities from Myanmar, improving their access to the various services in the camps. As a result, people with disabilities now have access to education, vocational training and primary health care.
Since January 2016, the site is managed within the MyTh program (created in January 2016 with its regional office in Yangon), in line with the refugees’ repatriation process, and aims at strengthening the coordination between HI activities in Myanmar and in Thailand around refugees’ reintegration. MyTh Regional Strategy 2018-2020 has been developed and approved in November 2017.