MyanmarSoutheast Asia

Myanmar ethnic army requests “no-fly zone” near Thai border

Heavy artillery shelling by the military council forced the refugees to cross the Thaung River and flee to the Thai side on December 19 | Photo via the Karen Information Centre

Following the airstrikes on Myanmar’s oldest ethnic army controlled area that forced thousands of refugees to flee to neighbouring Thailand last week, the Karen National Union urged the UN Security Council to recognise a no-fly zone in its territory.

As fighting between the state military and the Karen’s armed wing has escalated, Thailand took in about 3,400 migrants last week, according to Thai authorities, and thousands more remain stranded on Myanmar’s side of the border, awaiting passage.

A warning of a “high potential” of military airstrikes was notified to civilians by KNU yesterday, citing it won’t target their strongholds but schools, hospitals, houses, and villages in the area, according to the chairman of the KNU’s international affairs department, Saw Taw Nee, who told Reuters, citing prior combat experience.

Last month, the United Nations Security Council, in a rare unanimous statement, voiced worry about the violence in Myanmar and asked the military to exhibit maximum restraint.

Since a February coup, international efforts to end the crisis in Myanmar have focused on diplomatic measures and attempts to exert economic pressure through Western sanctions.

In 2012, the KNU agreed to a ceasefire and tried to put an end to a self-determination struggle that began soon after Myanmar earned independence in 1948.

However, since the coup, its forces have clashed with the army, and it has enabled opponents of the coup to take refuge in its territory.

SOURCE: Reuters

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