Transborder News

Karenni refugees ready to return home once armed conflicts stop, grateful to Thai people, another two thousand are so desperate, Thai government is pleaded to permit humanitarian corridor

On 30 June, Saw Da Thu, Village Headman of Ban Pa Kluay, Karenni, Myanmar, who has fled from armed conflicts between the Myanmar Army and the Karenni National People’s Liberation Front (-KNPLF) which allies with the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), the Karenni National Solidarity Organization (KNSO) and the People’s Defence Force (PDF) and is now seeking asylum at a temporary shelter in Tambon Mae Khong, Mae Sariang District, Mae Hong Son, has said in an interview that he was part of the villagers who have to flee across the border to Thailand due to aerial attacks perpetrated by the Myanmar Army and bombs that have been dropped around their village causing them to fear and to seek asylum in Thailand.

“We have come here for our survival. Once the situation there gets relaxed, we are ready to return home. Right now, we need to have an asylum. We are concerned about hour houses, livestock, but dare not return there. While our rice is growing in the field, we are too scared to return to tend to it. The fields are rife with weeds and buffaloes must have eaten up our rice. But we can do nothing. The Myanmar Army keeps sending their jet fighters to shell us” said the Village Headman.

Saw Da Thu further said that we are glad to receive help from Thai people in terms of our accommodation, food and other supplies. When they arrived here, they have barely brought anything with them.

On 29 June 2023, the Development Center for Children and Community Network (DCCN), Sop Moei District, the Association for the Restoration and Development Salween River Basin and other alliances have brought with them two truckloads of rice, dried food and other necessities from Sop Moei and Mae Sariang Districts to the temporary shelters in Ban Unu, Mae Sariang District at the border with the Karenni State, The transportation route was rather rough and remote cutting through steep mountain and ravine. It took six or seven hours to get there.

About 316 villagers from four villages in Karenni State have fled to settle in the shelter close to Ban Unu since middle of June. Meanwhile, more than 4,000 Karennis have sought asylum at Ban Sao Hin and Ban Jo Pra Ki in Mae Sariang District and Ban Pha Khae, Khun Yuam District, Mae Hong Son. Since Ban Unu and Ban Jo Pra Ki are located in a hard-to-reach area, in the beginning, the Border Command Center of Mae Hong Son has only mentioned about war refugees in Ban Sao Hin and Ban Pha Khae.

A 74-year-old Karenni woman in Ban Unu temporary shelter said that she has fled from Ban Taw La and has already made more than ten runs to flee for her life. She has no idea what else she can do. This time, she came with no belongings together with 12 families from her village. Nowadays, there is almost none left living in Ban Taw La.

“We did not want to leave Myanmar. But given the aerial bombs, we had to come here. We did not want to leave behind our properties, our paddy fields, orchards, etc.,” said the old lady.

Pongpan Kongsananmuang, Village Headman of Moo 4, Tambon Mae Khong, Mae Sariang District, Mae Hong Son, said that he has come to look after the villagers who have fled from Karenni State since the beginning. People from both sides of river shall such close kinship. When they suffer and have to run away from wars, if we turned them away, that would be mean. I believe once the situation there gets better, they would certainly return home since they are concerned about their properties and paddy fields.

Santipong Moonfong, Director of the Development Center for Children and Community Network (DCCN), Sop Moei District, Mae Hong Son said that as far as I know, many villagers who have fled from armed conflicts are still languishing in the Karenni State, about 2,000 of them just opposite to Ban Sao Hin. If the Thai authorities do not allow them to cross over here, at least, they should allow the sending of humanitarian aid to these people who are in dire straits. It is very important to ensure humanitarian aid be sent to them urgently since they are just non-combatant civilians and not part of the conflicts.


This is a translation of original Thai article https://transbordernews.in.th/home/?p=34416

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