Thailand addresses refugee crisis amid Thai-Myanmar conflict

Picture courtesy of Assawin Pinitwong

Responding to the escalating conflict along the Thai-Myanmar border, Thailand’s government committee convened its inaugural meeting yesterday to address the refugee crisis and bolster security measures.

The committee, led by Deputy Prime Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara, strategised ahead of an inspection tour of Tak’s Mae Sot district, which lies opposite the Myanmar town of Myawaddy. The latter recently witnessed a surge in violence between junta troops and rebel forces.

Accompanying the Deputy Prime Minister on this mission were Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang and Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. The ongoing conflict has resulted in approximately 3,000 Myanmar residents seeking refuge in the Mae Sot district. However, local officials reported a decrease in the refugee count at temporary shelters in the Mae Sot and Umphang districts to 983 yesterday.

The committee, established by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on April 11, focused on the potential implications of the Myanmar conflict for Thailand, especially regarding the anticipated influx of refugees and necessary security protocols.

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Nikorndej Balankura, the spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, outlined the three core principles agreed upon during the meeting. These include safeguarding Thailand’s sovereignty, preventing any activities against the Myanmar government from taking place on Thai soil, and maintaining humanitarian principles without any discrimination.

The National Security Council (NSC) has been tasked with closely monitoring the evolving situation in Myanmar, while the Foreign Affairs Ministry will work in conjunction with the international community and organisations. Nikorndej highlighted the dynamic nature of the Myanmar situation, requiring hourly assessments. Nonetheless, he expressed optimism that Parnpree’s upcoming visit would offer a more detailed understanding of the conflict, the security of Thai nationals, and the provision of humanitarian aid to the affected populace, reported Bangkok Post.

Nikorndej reassured that Thailand is prepared to extend assistance to those seeking refuge and is ready to facilitate peace talks if needed. He also unequivocally stated that any group involved in the conflict would not be permitted to establish a force on Thai territory.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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