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UN representative talks with Thai officials to help refugees fleeing Myanmar

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ Karen Information Center - KIC

With ongoing violence in Myanmar between the military junta and ethnic armies, a representative from the United Nations has held discussions with local authorities in Mae Hong Son, which borders Myanmar, to look into ways to help more than 2,000 Karen refugees who fled their homes to escape the violence.

Following the military coup in February, ousting the state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi who had won the election in a landslide, hundreds of anti-coup protesters have been killed by security forces. Ethnic armies, many that occupy border regions, have clashed with the military junta following the coup. The prominent ethnic army of the Karen National Union has openly supported the anti-coup movement, leading to violent clashes with the military junta. Some fear it may be the start of a civil war.

The Myanmar military launched airstrikes on a Karen village by the Thai border in March. It was a significant attack for the Karen National Union, which had signed a ceasefire agreement back in 2015. The Karen army recently took over a state military outpost by the Thai border. Gunshots could be heard just across the Salaween River in Thailand. The ongoing violence has forced around 2,160 Karen to flee their home and cross the river into Thailand.

Mae Hong Son governor Sitthichai Jindaluang says he, as well as other senior provincial officials, met with a protection officer from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to discuss ways to help provide assistance for the Karen refugees.

“The UNHCR representative was deeply concerned about the refugees and we told him that we have already provided them with temporary shelters, public health assistance, food, medicine, and other necessities.”

Troops have been deployed along the Thai-Myanmar border. If the situation between the Karen army and the Myanmar military escalates, then refugees will be relocated to another shelter about 1 to 2 kilometres away from the border.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.

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