Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

About 2,000 men, women and children are reportedly camping at four separate sites on the Myanmar side of the Moei River.

Thousands of Myanmar villagers have been forced to live under temporary tents along a river bordering Thailand, afraid to return to homes they say were bombed by military airstrikes but reluctant to hide across the border.

Fierce fighting between the Myanmar army, which seized power in a coup last year, and resistance fighters killed or displaced thousands of civilians in this region and elsewhere.

Many fled to Thailand, but poor conditions in refugee camps there led some to return to the Myanmar side of the border, and human rights groups sought more help for the displaced.

Reporters from the Reuters news agency on the Thai side of the Moei River on Friday saw an estimated 2,000 men, women and children in four separate places under sails on the opposite bank.

One woman from the camp, Sabal Phyu, 42, waded across the loosely patrolled border to collect donated food and bottled water, before returning to the Myanmar side of the river.

“On the other hand, we received good donations, but it was very busy and difficult to live. “We have more freedom here,” Sabal Phyu told Reuters.

Sabal Phyu said she initially crossed into Thailand with her husband and four children, but returned to the border area after being packed with other refugees in an empty cattle shed near the Thai town of Mae Sot.

Some 8,000 Myanmar refugees are staying in temporary shelters in Thailand, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

A spokesman for Myanmar’s military government did not respond to calls from Reuters for comment.

Humanitarian commitments

Ratchada Dhanadirek, spokesperson for the Thai government, said in response to a question about the Thai camp conditions that the country “cares for the refugees” and performs its duties “according to international human rights standards”.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Friday it had not been given access by the Thai government to the Mae Sot sites where refugees are housed and could not gain access to the Myanmar side of the border.

UNHCR has provided mosquito nets, sleeping mats, blankets and face masks to support the humanitarian response led by the Thai authorities, spokeswoman Kasita Rochanakorn said.

The deputy director of Asia at Human Rights Watch said Thailand should do more to support those displaced by fighting in Myanmar.

“Thailand needs to recognize that its humanitarian obligations to refugees involve more than just allowing a few food and medicine packages across the border,” Phil Robertson said.

Elsewhere in Myanmar, there were reports of a village in the northern Sagaing division allegedly being attacked by the army on Friday.

Residents of Kan Gyi East village in Kanbalu township were forced to flee on Friday morning as security forces allegedly beat up residents and arrested at least 20 of them while burning houses and killing livestock, according to social media posts, which include photos showing the alleged. attack.

Al Jazeera could not independently confirm the reports, and the military has yet to comment on the incident.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military overthrew a civilian government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, sparking protests and sporadic clashes in the countryside between the anti-junta militia and the military.

More than 1,400 civilians and protesters have been killed by Myanmar security forces since the coup, according to the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners activist group.

The military said those figures, which are widely cited by international organizations, were exaggerated.

MoeirivierRefugees, who fled from a flare-up in fighting between the Myanmar army and armed groups, temporarily settled on the Moei Riverbank and received aid from Thailand on the Thai-Myanmar border on Thursday. [Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters]

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