01/03/2022, 14.01
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Bangkok: growing number of Burmese refugees at the border

by Steve Suwannarat

About 6,000 people have already crossed the border into Thailand due to increased fighting in Myanmar. The Thai Human Rights Commission asks the government to assist refugees and Thai citizens in the Mae Hong Son and Tak areas.


Bangkok (AsiaNews) - The number of Burmese migrants on Thailand's western border is increasing. The Thai government is increasingly urged to open its doors to at least some refugees fleeing bombings and round-ups by the military junta, in power in Myanmar since February 1, 2021. However, refugees are also fleeing the fighting that now also involves the People's Defense Forces and ethnic militias, as the conflict escalates and increasingly affects the civilian population.

There are more than 300,000 internally displaced persons, especially in the areas inhabited by minorities in the north and east of Myanmar. In the Chin, Kachin, Kayah, Shan and Karen States there is also a concentration of Christians. Especially ethnic Karen are the thousands of fugitives who are pressing to seek refuge in Thailand: about 6 thousand have already crossed the border with Thailand under the pressure of clashes between the military and Karen fighters. A situation that inevitably involves Thais close to the border and risks exposing them to war.

Requests for intervention to protect the civilian population have come from many quarters. The latest is from the Thai Commission for Human Rights, which has asked the Bangkok government to urgently launch initiatives to support refugees and Thai citizens in the areas of Mae Hong Son and Tak.

The Commission was established in 1992, and has always been limited in its action, even more so since the May 2014 coup. Recalling Thailand's long experience in hosting refugees from the Indochinese conflict and repressions in neighboring countries against minorities or opponents, the body urged the authorities to provide adequate assistance and care also in reference to the Covid-19 pandemic, which if on the Thai side of the border causes concern, on the Burmese side it seems to have been out of control for some time.

For this reason, after having urged "the agencies involved to ensure the safety of Thai citizens living on the border through the construction of essential facilities, contingency plans and awareness," the Commission expressed the hope that the "priority of all parties in this crisis is the assistance of victims in line with the principles of human rights protection".

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