Myanmar’s parallel National Unity Government (NUG) has asked Thailand to cooperate over cross-border humanitarian aid and COVID-19 jabs for refugees.
The NUG’s COVID-19 Task Force (CTF) is a joint effort between the civilian health ministry and ethnic armed organizations’ health agencies to fight COVID-19 in Myanmar. It was formed in July during a deadly wave of COVID-19 in Myanmar.
Padoh Mahn Mahn, a spokesman for the CTF and the Karen National Union’s Brigade 5, said: “We have asked the Thai authorities for cross-border [vaccinations]. But we have to overcome many challenges.”
The Thai government has already been providing COVID-19 jabs to migrant workers and refugees from Myanmar in Thailand. Migrants were receiving COVID-19 jabs this week in Mae Sot, which borders Myanmar’s Karen State.
Thailand also supplied 4,000 free COVID-19 doses to the Mae La camp at the border, the largest Karen refugee settlement in Thailand. Refugees have been vaccinated since September.
Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US State Department Counselor Derek Chollet recently met Thai foreign minister Don Pramudwina and Myanmar’s crisis was discussed.
They explored ways to enhance cooperation between Thailand and the US in providing humanitarian assistance – including on public health and development of water supply and sanitation – along Myanmar’s border, said the ministry.
Don chaired a meeting on humanitarian assistance for Myanmar on Oct. 20 where a variety of participants expressed readiness to coordinate humanitarian assistance for Myanmar.
Dr. Cynthia Maung, the founder of the Mae Tao Clinic, said cooperation among regional agencies is urgent and vital to providing humanitarian aid while grave human rights violations continue and the majority of Myanmar’s population faces difficulties.
The Mae Sot clinic has been providing basic health care for refugees and migrant workers for three decades.
“A number of countries are interested while aid being provided by international agencies through Myanmar’s military is unlikely to reach people in trouble,” said Dr. Maing.
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