AIPP GROUND REPORT: THAI-MYANMAR BORDER CRISIS

On February 1st 2021, Myanmar’s Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and Commander-in-Chief led a military takeover which deposed the democratically-elected civilian government and plunged Myanmar into a political and economic crisis.

The coup triggered a massive uprising, bringing hundreds of thousands of protesters to the streets to demand a return to democracy, while civil servants have boycotted work in a bid to shutter the junta’s administration. The anti-coup movement has reportedly killed more than 720 people with some 3,100 activists, journalists and dissidents detained as of mid-April.  Intensifying violence has driven fearful civilians in Myanmar to seek asylum in Thailand, and to a lesser extent India.

Reports from the ground are contrary to the Thai government’s official stance of accepting refugees. AIPP’s sources at the Thai-Myanmar border reported that Thai local officials and military have continued to block refugee access to the country, in some cases preventing the dispatch of vital supplies.

The flashpoint is also between Myanmar’s military and ethnic armed groups. Air raids targeting Karen army camps, government offices and public infrastructure such as schools and hospitals has acerbated an intense situation.

In late April, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the armed wing of the Karen National Union (KNU) seized two out of three Myanmar army bases opposite Mae Sam Laep village. This incident provoked further air strikes two weeks ago. Air strikes at the Salween River border since last April by the Tatmadaw targeting KNU territory, has deepened a humanitarian crisis, leading to an influx of about 3000 Karen Displaced Peoples.

On the 10th and 11th of April, AIPP visited Mae Sam Laep village in Mae Sariang district, Ma Hong Song province, in what has become the focal point of the crisis locally, to observe and evaluate the situation in consultation with local organizations and civil society groups, in order to provide contextualized aid to the Karen Displaced Peoples.

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