Aid Groups Urge Support for Refugees Fleeing Eastern Burma
14 December 2010: The Forum of Burma’s Community-Based Organisations (FCOB) are urging the international community, governments and aid groups to support thousands of refugees fleeing Eastern Burma following armed conflicts between the military regime and armed ethnic groups since Burma’s recent elections.
More than 25,000 civilians fled across the border from Myawaddy into Mae Sot of Tak Province in Thailand on 8 November alone while at least 10,000 from Three Pagodas Pass and another 2,500 from Waw Lay village also ran away from fighting in respective areas, according to FCOB.
Some who fled into Thailand voluntarity went back to Burma while others were sent back into areas of ongoing conflicts amid concerns for their safety and security. An estimated 2,000 civilians fleeing the fighting are still reported being displaced along the Moei River and some more in other areas of Karen State.
Dr. Cynthia Maung, FCOB Coordinator, said thousands of civilians fleeing the armed conflicts are still being displaced and trapped along the Thai-Burma border.Her group is providing food and essential services to the displaced persons.
“The international community, non-governmental organisations and governments including Thai authorities should be more proactive and motivated in responding to, and addressing the devastating situations facing innocent civilians.”
As of 6 December, over 3,600 civilians are taking refuge in Thailand and receiving assistance from the community, according to the FCOB’s report.
The Forum of Burma’s Community-Based Organisations called on the Burmese military regime to cease all hositilies and provocative actions against ethnic communities and engage in tripartite dialogue. It also called on the Royal Thai Government to provide temporary refuge in Thailand to the conflict-victims, and the UNHCR to provide protection and coordinate with local communities and INGOs.
FCOB, comprised of over 20 community-based organisations on the Thai-Burma border, is a forum for coordination and communication for community-based organisations (CBOs) providing assistance to those on the Thai-Burma border who have been affected by Burma’s military and political instability.
Outbreaks of Conflicts
In the weeks since Burma’s elections on 7 November 2010, a series of armed conflicts has broken out in several palces along the Thai-Burma border. An escalating tension between Burma’s military junta and armed ethnic groups that refuse to surrender their arms or join the SPDC’s Border Guard Force have prompted the largest number of civilians from Burma fleeing into Thailand in more than a decade.
On 7 November, troops from DKBA 5th Brigade took up strategic positions in Myawaddy, Karen State. On 8 November, heavy fighting took place as SPDC soldiers tried to retake the town. More than 25,000 civilians fled into Mae Sot, Thailand, and the surrounding area. Three civilians from Burma were reported to have been killed and more than twenty injured.
Fighting also began in Three Pagodas Pass, with at least 10,000 civilians reported to have fled, taking refuge in Thailand and in nearby territory controlled by the New Mon State Party (NMSP). One child was reportedly killed. On 9 November, a mortar injured seven civilians.
Fighting also occurred in Waw Lay village, located between Myawaddy and Three Pagodas Pass, causing some 2,500 villagers to flee to Thailand. Mortar fire reportedly killed a 15-year-old girl in the area and injured other civilians. Armed conflict and the threat of further fighting have continued in the weeks following the initial outbreak of violence, with thousands of civilians on the move and at risk in a hostile environment.
Van Biak Thang