Senior US State Dept Official Visits Thai Border, Discusses Ways to Aid Myanmar People

By The Irrawaddy 10 June 2022

US State Department Counselor Derek Chollet visited a camp for Myanmar refugees and met civil society groups in the Thai border town of Mae Sot on Thursday as part of his Southeast Asian trip this week to discuss US efforts to support the Myanmar people.

From Thailand, Chollet will travel to Singapore and Brunei. At each stop, he will follow up on the outcomes of last month’s US-ASEAN Special Summit in Washington and reaffirm the commitment of the US to work with allies and partners to restore Myanmar’s path to democracy, the State Department said.

In Thailand, Chollet has met with senior officials to discuss a range of bilateral and multilateral issues, and also planned to meet with international humanitarian organizations, civil society organizations (CSOs) and other stakeholders.

On Thursday, he visited Mae La Camp, a sprawling refuge camp in Tak Province that has been sheltering more than 27,900 internally displaced Karen people from Myanmar since 1984. He asked about the residents’ situation and health status.

He then toured the Mae Tao Clinic, which has provided a health lifeline for Myanmar refugees in Mae Sot and surrounding areas for decades. He met with clinic founder Dr. Cynthia Maung on Thursday afternoon, along with other Karen, Mon and Shan CSOs, asking them about the humanitarian crisis inside Myanmar.

Dr. Cynthia Maung said the counselor asked about the challenges in delivering cross-border aid and how the US can assist more effectively.

“The ethnic CSOs raised issues on internally displaced people in ethnic areas, human rights abuses [by the regime], ways of reducing the operational obstacles they face in delivering aid and how we can collaborate with Thai healthcare programs on the border when carrying out cross-border aid [efforts],” she said.

She added that she hoped the US counselor’s visit would help CSOs assisting Myanmar people on the Thai border work more safely.

In Singapore, Chollet will attend the Shangri-La Dialogue and participate in a panel discussion on the conflict in Myanmar with senior officials.

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