This week, at least 5,000 people were forced to flee from Myanmar, amid fierce fighting between the country’s military and armed rebels, to Thailand, as per media reports citing Thai officials, on Thursday (April 6). This comes after clashes broke out when rebels in the southern Karen state attacked a military border guard outpost, reported BBC Burmese and Thailand’s Khaosod English newspaper.
The Karen state outpost town of Myawaddy borders Thailand’s Tak province and has witnessed intense fighting. “Around 3,998 people have fled into Thailand’s temporary shelter” across 10 areas, Tak provincial officials said in a statement. Myanmar has been facing turmoil since the ouster of Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government which was toppled by the army in a coup in February 2021.
“Many people crossed the border since yesterday and some are still also waiting on the Myanmar side to cross. People don’t have enough drinking water or any toilets for now,” a charity worker who requested anonymity told Reuters. Meanwhile, the officials in Tak have said local armed forces, police, and the civil administration are closely monitoring the situation and were “ready to send patrol flights if Thai airspace is violated”.
It added, “The Thai-Myanmar border command centre in Tak province is working together with relevant agencies to provide safety and give assistance in accordance to humanitarian principles to all those who fled the fighting in Myanmar.”
Reports suggest that the clashes between long-established ethnic rebel groups, as well as dozens of ‘People’s Defence Forces’ militias who have opposed the coup, frequently clash with the military forcing civilians to flee across the nearby Thai border.
Padoh Saw Thamain Tun, a leader from the anti-junta Karen National Army (KNLA) confirmed the clashes in the area and said around “2,000 people were displaced, crossed the border, come to Thai side,” reported AFP. The ongoing fighting has raged across the country, particularly in the rural areas. Meanwhile, rights groups have accused the military of targeting civilians in air strikes and ground operations.
According to the local group, Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, Myanmar’s military has used lethal force against its opponents, killing some 3,212 people and jailing over 17,000. On the other hand, the military claims it is fighting “terrorists” and denies targeting civilians while blaming anti-coup fighters for the deaths of civilians.
(With inputs from agencies)
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