HomeWorldRenewed conflict and influx of refugees at Thai-Myanmar border following attack on...

Renewed conflict and influx of refugees at Thai-Myanmar border following attack on monastery in Myanmar

By: Sahana David Menon and Daniel Rucka

Twitter: @the_news_21

Southern Shan State, Myanmar: On March 11, 2023, a deadly attack on a Buddhist monastery in the village of Nai Neint, in Myanmar, has led to renewed conflict and displacement of civilians. The attack claimed the lives of 33 civilians including three monks.

According to local authorities, the attack was carried out by an armed group known as the Karenni Nationalities Defense Organization (KNDO). However, the KNDO has denied responsibility for the attack, instead claiming “They (the military) made them line up in front of the monastery and brutally shot them all, including the monks”.

The view amoung Moei river from Mae La sub-district, Tha Song Yang district (Thai-Myanmar border), Tak Province, Northern Thailand. It is notable as it’s where a substantial population of Burmese migrants and refugees live. 
picture credit : Daniel Rucka

The Myanmar military Junta dismissed this accusation and issued a statement reports to the contrary, spokespersons for the junta have claimed that those who lost their lives were not innocent bystanders, but rather members of armed groups involved in supplying weapons to anti-coup rebels.

This statement was made during a broadcast on the state-owned Myawaddy television channel. The location of the incident is considered to be of critical importance due to its role in the supply chain of weapons to those who are opposed to the current regime.

The incident has led to renewed conflict in the region, with clashes between Myanmar security forces and armed groups. This situation has led to an influx of refugees across the Thai-Myanmar border, with many seeking safety in Thailand. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has expressed concern over the situation, noting that it has led to an increase in the number of refugees crossing the Thai-Myanmar border in recent days.

.The photo depicts the settlements of Myanmar refugees in a town located on Mae La sub-district, Tha Song Yang district (Thai-Myanmar border), Tak Province, Northern Thailand the border between Thailand and Myanmar. The image shows rows of makeshift homes made from a variety of materials, including bamboo, tarpaulin, and corrugated metal. These homes are built closely together and form a tightly packed community where many refugees have sought shelter and safety from the ongoing conflict and persecution in their home country.
 Picture credit: Daniel Rucka.

According to local residents, two individuals were killed, including a 70-year-old displaced man, by troops belonging to the Junta in Myaung township, Sagaing on March 14. The Junta troops have been conducting raids in various villages of Myaung since March 12, leading to the displacement of around 4,000 residents from their homes. 

According to the UNHCR, there are already over 100,000 refugees from Myanmar living in camps along the Thai border, many of whom have been displaced by previous rounds of conflict and persecution. The recent attack on the monastery and the resulting displacement of civilians have only added to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the region.

The Thai-Myanmar border has become a flashpoint in the ongoing conflict in Myanmar, with refugees fleeing violence and persecution crossing into Thailand in increasing numbers. While Thai authorities have provided some support to these refugees, concerns are mounting about the impact of the influx on local communities and the broader political situation in the region.

The Thai government has set up temporary shelters to accommodate the refugees and has provided some assistance, including food and medical care. However, many refugees remain in limbo, uncertain about their future and facing difficult conditions in the camps.

 The monastery and homes in Nan Neint village burn after a raid by Myanmar military junta troops in Shan state.
 Picture credit: Karenni Nationalities Defense Force

Dr Thitinan Pongsudhirak is a political scientist and a speaker associate professor at faculty of political science at the university of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Dr. Pongsudhirak said that the situation at the Thai-Myanmar border is complex and multifaceted, with political, economic, and humanitarian factors all playing a role. The ongoing conflict in Myanmar, which has seen the military crackdown on pro-democracy protests and targeted violence against minority groups, has created a refugee crisis that is spilling over into neighbouring countries like Thailand.

At the same time, the economic impact of the pandemic has worsened the situation, with many refugees unable to find work or support themselves and their families. This has put a strain on local communities and raised concerns about the potential for social unrest.

“The situation at the Thai-Myanmar border is a humanitarian crisis, but it’s also a political and economic crisis,” said Dr. Thitinan Pongsudhirak. “There are no easy solutions, and it’s going to require a coordinated effort from governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders to address the underlying issues.”

Many activists and NGOs are calling for a more coordinated response from the international community, including increased aid and support for refugees and pressure on the Myanmar military to stop the violence and respect human rights. Some are also calling for a more robust response from the Thai government, including greater support for refugees and a more compassionate approach to those crossing the border.

However, there are concerns that the political situation in Thailand could complicate efforts to address the crisis. The Thai government has been criticized for its treatment of refugees and migrants in the past, and some fear that the current political climate could make it more difficult to provide assistance and support to those in need.

The temporary representative of the United Nations for Myanmar, Kyaw Moe Tun says “Band-Aid fix is never an answer”, urging the global community again to help Myanmar as “it’s not about choosing one political system over another. It’s about addressing the key threat to regional peace & security”.

Sahana David Menon
Sahana David Menon
Foreign Correspondent (Sri Lanka) - Sahana David Menon is a multimedia Journalist | Researcher | Story Teller based in South Asia. Sahana is a Foreign Correspondent for TheNews21. She began reporting in 2014 from the post-Srilankan civil war-ethic conflicts and has since worked with Marginalized communities, conflicts and Environmental issues in India, Srilanka, the Bali islands, and the Middle east. Sahana has won the best multimedia report award in 2016 in the Global Press awards


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