The Thai PM has ordered local officials in the western province of Tak to provide aid to thousands of refugees who have fled Myanmar. According to a Thai PBS World report, some 4,000 people have been forced to flee fighting in the neighbouring country and are in need of temporary shelter and humanitarian aid. The UN’s refugee agency has already called on Thailand to grant it “urgent access” to the refugees.
Chaichan Changmongkol from the Defency Ministry says the PM has charged the governor of Tak with overseeing the situation, with the support of the Thai army. Refugees who have tested positive for Covid-19 have been isolated from the rest of the group and are receiving treatment in hospital. Thai PBS World reports that the remainder are seeking refuge in the sub-districts of Mae Tao and Mahawan.
Intense fighting between Burmese government forces and Karen rebels is taking place across the border from Tak’s Mae Sot district. Thai security officials say armoured vehicles are being sent in to the area by the Burmese military and they believe the situation is likely to escalate. Officials say more Burmese refugees, particularly ethnic Karen people, are expected to flee into Thailand. Many have already taken refuge in forests near the sub-district of Mae Ku.
According to the Thai PBS World report, an explosion has caused heavy damage to a bridge which the Thai government built for Myanmar. The bridge is on the Asian highway, in Kawkareik township, about 60 kilometres from the Thai border. Despite the heavy damage, it’s understood small vehicles can still cross the bridge.
Karen rebels in Myanmar have been fighting for their independence for several decades. Their main command, the Karen National Union, has now instructed troops to shoot on sight any strangers who venture into Karen-held areas.
SOURCE: Thai PBS World