'There’s no media for refugees': Information and communication in camps on the Thai-Burma border

  • Victoria Jack UNSW Forced Migration Research Network
Keywords: alternative media, Burma, communication with communities (CwC), community media, ethnic media, humanitarian, human rights, Karen, protection, refugee camps, refugees, Thailand


This article uses the example of camps on the Thai-Burma border to highlight the exclusion of refugees from the common world and subsequent omission of their voices from news coverage. Moreover, the article argues that this exclusion weakens the supposed protection offered to refugees by impeding the media in its role as protector and promoter of human rights. While there has been considerable literature examining the reporting of humanitarian crises to a global audience, in contrast there has been little in the way of research—and practice—concerning strategies to effectively communicate with refugees affected by such crises. Fieldwork conducted in three of nine official Thai-Burma border camps involved interviews with 81 participants, including refugees, humanitarian practitioners and journalists. Participant accounts show that a range of factors inhibit the production of news media coverage relevant to refugees interned in the Thai-Burma border camps, thereby preventing refugees from accessing vital information and voicing in common public space their experiences of violence, corruption and discrimination. A handful of exiled media groups provide poorly funded exceptions.


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Author Biography

Victoria Jack, UNSW Forced Migration Research Network

Dr Victoria Jack is a graduate from the School of Design, Communication and IT at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Her thesis ‘Communication as aid: Giving voice to refugees on the Thai-Burma border’ argues that communication is inherently linked to human rights, dignity and wellbeing, and thereby to protection, which is a guiding principle of humanitarian response to situations of forced migration. Since completing her PhD, Victoria has worked for Internews on a project that provides ‘news you can use’ for refugees affected by the European Union displacement crisis. Victoria is an active member of the UNSW Forced Migration Research Network.



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How to Cite
Jack, V. (2017). ’There’s no media for refugees’: Information and communication in camps on the Thai-Burma border. Pacific Journalism Review : Te Koakoa, 23(2), 127-143. https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v23i2.93