UN Calls For Urgent Assistance For Myanmar Refugees Fleeing to Thailand

By The Irrawaddy 21 December 2021

The United Nations (UN) refugee agency has stressed the need for urgent assistance and protection for displaced people from Myanmar’s Karen State who have fled to Thailand, as the number of people who have crossed into the country reached almost 4,000.

As fighting has intensified between the Myanmar military and the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and civilian People’s Defense Force (PDF) groups, residents of villages in Karen State’s Myawaddy Township on the Myanmar-Thai border have fled their homes. Some 3,900 people had sought shelter in Thailand by Monday, while an estimated 10,000 others are now internally displaced.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it is concerned for the welfare of these civilians and has approached the Thai authorities with offers of assistance including the provision of emergency aid, it said in a statement released on Monday.

“UNHCR and NGOs have requested urgent access to the refugees to ascertain and deliver to them the necessary humanitarian and protection assistance,” the statement said.

Fighting between junta troops and the KNLA broke out last week in Karen State’s Myawaddy Township after military regime raids on the new town of Lay Kay Kaw close to the frontier with Thailand. Many pro-democracy activists, striking civil servants and other people opposed to the junta have taken refuge in Lay Kay Kaw since the military’s February 1 coup.

During the raids, junta forces arrested around 40 people including two elected lawmakers from the National League for Democracy Party. Since then, fighting has intensified with the regime bombarding areas around Lay Kay Kaw with artillery.

On Monday, the Karen National Union issued a statement urging the UN to convene an emergency meeting to declare a no-fly zone in the Lay Kay Kaw area as the regime could carry out airstrikes in the region at any time.

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