Official says 1,000 Myanmar refugees voluntarily returned home from Thailand

Deputy Governor Surapol said the refugees 'voluntarily' returned home.

After thousands of refugees fled Myanmar to Thailand due to the latest outbreak of violence, the deputy governor of Tak province, Surapol Wongsukphisarn, said yesterday that around 1,000 refugees had voluntarily returned home.

This news comes after it was reported yesterday morning that thousands of people seeking refuge in Tak’s Mae Sot and Mae Ramat districts. The heavy fighting in Myanmar’s Myawaddy region between the alliance of the People’s Defence Force, the Karen National Liberation Army, and the Myanmar military, against Border Guard forces, lasted for three days. The fighting forced over 9,000 Karen villagers to flee across the border into Thailand’s Mae Ramat and Mae Sot districts.

Over 8,000 remain in temporary shelters in Thailand, with many of them waiting to see how the situation develops in Myanmar. Over 3,700 refugees have now been given temporary shelter in Mae Ramat district, and over 5,000 in Mae Sot district, according to Bangkok Post.

Deputy Governor Surapol said that Thai authorities are committed to voluntary repatriation, and not forced return.

Thai authorities have been deployed around the shelters to ensure the safety of the refugees, but some elderly and child refugees have fallen ill due to the hot weather, and the shelters have become overcrowded.

The situation in Myanmar remains tense, with ongoing violence between ethnic groups and the military. The country has been in turmoil since a military coup in February 2021, which has sparked widespread protests and violence. The United Nations called for an end to the violence and for the restoration of democracy in Myanmar.

Myanmar’s many ethnic minorities have formed armed groups fighting for their ethnic groups’ autonomy ever since the country gained independence in 1948.

Last month, Myanmar’s army killed 30 civilians, and three Buddhist monks, at a monastery in Nam Hnain village in Pinlaung township in Shan State. Local resistance group, the Karreni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF), released graphic and bloody photos of piles of bodies, with multiple gunshot wounds, some of the victims wearing orange Buddhist robes.

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.