IN Mae La refugee camp I met Marjoy Htoo, 19, and Loyal Moo, 20, who were both born within the confines of the camp and have never left.

They are not allowed to leave. Their world is the bamboo-constructed huts of Mae La, on the Thai-Burmese border, and no further. Beginning life in the camps means no birth certificate and so, no passport.

They are not quite Burmese, being born in Thailand, but their refugee status means they are not Thai.

I ask them questions about day to day life in this 40,000-strong camp just eight kilometres from their parents’ homeland, Burma, all the while aware I have two passports in my pocket. Two nationalities, between them giving dozens of possibilities.

We take it all for granted, don’t we? The big things, like freedom of movement, and the wee things: a hot shower, an electric light.

I asked Marjoy and Loyal how they get a sense of the outside world. They looked at me and smiled kindly at my ignorance, as teenagers do to any adult. “Facebook,” they said. But, of course.

And that was the thing I wasn’t expecting. Along the Thai border there are nine camps housing 100,000 people. Mae La opened in 1984 and families have been there for its lifespan.

They are as settled as they can be in a place where construction materials must be temporary and the Thai government is agitating for them to leave.

There are schools, churches, temples, mosques. There is a restaurant, a hardware store, a hairdressers. There are pierced ears and directional haircuts. Loyal plays guitar and Marjoy the piano. There is the internet.

Against everything - malnutrition and malaria, violence and extreme weather - civilisation and capitalism thrive.

I was surprised. Why was I surprised? Why should not these young people be on Facebook? Did part of me think they ‘shouldn’t’ have occasional smart phone access because of their refugee status?

And then I was surprised at myself, for how I had unthinkingly assumed these people would be different, other.

The Syrian refugee crisis, the horrors of Aleppo, have caught the public imagination. Perhaps due to graphic, gripping events such as the drowning of migrants in the nighttime capsizing of boats or perhaps due to the images of children dead or in peril. Perhaps it is because the repercussions are only a few coastlines away. A situation needs to be just on our shores to be real, it needs the immediacy of proximity.

There are protests and petitions and outrage. Although the war in Syria has been raging for more than five years, now there is popular interest.

We can look at the example of the people of Bute, who collected hot water bottles so that new Syrian arrivals would not be cold. We can look at Denmark’s controversial “jewellery law” where assets over £1000 can be seized by authorities.

The response to refugees in Europe has been mixed, to say the least. A recurring narrative thread from those who are not open to the notion of welcoming those in need is that we should help “our own” first.

It is a narrow sort of blinkered thinking that leads people to demarcate their neighbours into categories of need based on accident of birth.

What struck me in Mae La was that we are all essentially the same. I had expected to feel motivated by a sense of pity but it became more a sense of familiarity.

There is no such thing as “our own”. Refugees are not just like us, they are us and in need of our help.