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2,000 Burmese refugees sheltering in Mae Hong Son, northern Thailand

PHOTO: Ah Nyie on Flickr

The governor of the northern province of Mae Hong Son says around 2,000 Karen refugees are sheltering in the province as the bloody conflict in Myanmar continues. Sithichai Jindaluang says local officials have provided shelter and other necessities to refugees in the districts of Mae Sariang and Khun Yuam.

Violence in Myanmar has escalated since the military coup of February 1, which ousted the democratically-elected civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi. Thousands of ethnic villagers were forced to flee into Thailand when the junta launched air strikes on Karen state. The strikes came during the bloodiest week since the Burmese army began its crackdown against pro-democracy protesters. According to a Nation Thailand report, Sithichai says refugees have been arriving in the Kingdom for several weeks.

“The refugees have been crossing the border since March 11 as the situation in Myanmar started to escalate, and there are now about 2,000 Karen refugees in Mae Sariang and Khun Yuam districts. Thai officials have not only provided shelter and other necessities to the refugees but are also negotiating with those who can return to Myanmar to leave voluntarily. We believe this particular group will return home within 1-2 days.”

He says the Thai government will issue guidelines for how to care for the refugees who are unable to return home at this time.

“As for those who refuse to return or are unable to do so right now, the province will treat them under guidelines to be issued by the Thai government. If the situation in Myanmar worsens and more refugees enter Thailand, the province may consider building a refugee centre, subject to approval by the Interior Ministry.”

According to Sithichai, 7 refugees were injured while fleeing to Thailand, with 3 of them currenty receiving hospital treatment. It’s unclear how they were injured.

“Once the injured have been cured they will either be sent back or sent to join other refugees in Thailand. The province has been following humanitarian principles and international laws in dealing with the Burmese refugees.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Maya Taylor

A seasoned writer, with a degree in Creative Writing. Over ten years' experience in producing blog and magazine articles, news reports and website content.

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