Myanmar

Prayut promises aid to Burmese refugees amid border fighting

FILE PHOTO: PM Prayut vowed to help ethnic Karens seeking refuge from border fighting. (via Facebook/Karen Information Center)

After fighting flared between ethnic Karen rebels and the Burmese military and locals took refuge by fleeing across the border into the Mae Sot district of Tak, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has pledged to aid and care for every refugee. The humanitarian gesture was offered yesterday as the prime minister commanded local authorities to provide food rations and medical treatment to the refugees.

But, PM Prayut warned, the refugees will be sent back to Myanmar when the fighting subsides. No new refugee centres will be created for the over 90,000 Burmese who have already crossed the border, or any more who cross in the near future.

The announcement came as the Friends without Borders Foundation called on the Thai government to work with humanitarian groups and local activists to give shelter to these refugees. They pushed for the Thai government to take a stand against the junta’s violence against its own population and to drop all support for the Burmese junta.

Fighting has flared over the last 10 days between the Karen National Union and the military supported Karen State Border Guard Force with the military dropping bombs on Thursday night and several skirmishes have occurred so close to the Burmese-Thai border that towns along the border were getting fallout from the mortars.

PM Prayut said he would issue a warning to all sides involved with the fighting to now allow the bombs and violence to spill over the border and affect the people of Thailand. He assured that evacuation on the Thai side of the border would not be necessary.

While local authorities on the Thai side have bulked up border patrol, villagers waded across the Moei River that separate the two countries when bombings lulled. Field doctors were also waiting in the Mae Sot district to treat any injured refugees that flee to safety.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.