The Mekong sub-region is a stretch of forested hills and valleys straddling Yunnan Province in China, the eastern Shan State of Myanmar, northern Thailand and Laos. The Mekong River defines this area as it flows from the Tibetan plateau and through Cambodia and Vietnam to the Mekong Delta before emptying into the South China Sea.
The Mekong sub-region is undergoing significant change, including the building of new roads, dams and power installations between the countries. Cross-border trade is increasing along three main corridors through the area, causing a movement of population as people seek new opportunities for work. Some of these migrants are from ethnic minorities, especially along the border between Thailand and Myanmar – and here, migration is also propelled by armed conflict.
An illegal trade in goods and people runs in parallel with legitimate business. The most vulnerable people, mostly ethnic minority groups from Myanmar, are being exploited. Women and children are particularly at risk, as are stateless people who have migrated but do not have citizen’s rights in their new country.
These people are often very vulnerable, experiencing social and economic poverty, family breakdown and stress, as well as the risk of child abuse, human trafficking, intravenous drug use and HIV.
For more details about the Mekong area, download our Mekong sub-region profile (PDF, 140K).
Click here to watch a film about our work in the region.