Mae Sot Burdened by Thousands of Burmese Refugees

Monday, November 8, 2010

မီးေလာင္ေနတဲ့ ျမဝတီဘက္က ျမင္ကြင္း။ (ဓာတ္ပံု - Reuters)

MAE SOT—The ongoing armed conflict between Burmese government troops and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) Brigade 5 has sent thousands of refugees fleeing across the border to Mae Sot, Thailand.

Thai officials in Mae Sot estimated that more than 10,000 refugees entered Thailand on Monday after fighting broke out in the early morning—one day after Burma held its first election in 20 years. Other sources estimate that the number of refugees may now be as high as 30,000.

Refugees from in and around Myawaddy—Burma's border town across the river from Mae Sot— included months-old infants and the elderly, who were carried on the backs of family members. Most refugees fled with few possessions, crossing the Moei River group by group with the sound of gunfire and explosions coming from behind.

“My family members and I ran away from the battle in the town, taking whatever stuff we had in hand,” said a 50-year old housewife from Myawaddy. “I do not know when we can go back home.”

She said that Thai security forces and volunteers first took them to a building under construction at a monastery near the river. They were then taken, along with other refugees, by pickup truck to a Thai army compound opposite the Mae Sot airport.

By WAI MOE, Mae Sot, Thailand


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