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NEWS - Karen Refugees Say Trapped i
- Subject: NEWS - Karen Refugees Say Trapped i
- From: Rangoonp@xxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 03 Feb 1999 19:54:00
Subject: NEWS - Karen Refugees Say Trapped in Myanmar Jungle Camp
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NOTE: Why is Thailand assisting the SPDC/ SLORC in committing Genocide
of the Karen people??
Karen Refugees Say Trapped in Myanmar Jungle Camp
MAELA PUTHA, Myanmar, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Ethnic Karen
civilians who fled military repression in Myanmar say they
have been living in fear and hunger at this jungle camp
Yangon persuaded Thailand to block their food and medical
Camp leaders say 4,387 civilians of eastern Myanmar's
largest ethnic minority, mostly women and children from 636
families, fled their home villages late last year to this
makeshift riverside camp opposite Thailand.
They shelter under whatever protection they can find --
bushes, plastic sheets and simple bamboo huts.
"The food and medical supplies from NGOs stopped 10 days
ago and we are too scared to go back and retrieve rice from
our villages," camp leader Saw Di Di told Reuters.
"Myanmar fears the supplies will go into the hands of KNU
guerrillas and they persuaded Thailand to stop supplies to
us," he said, referring to the Karen National Union, one of
the last ethnic groups continuing to wage guerrilla war
against Yangon's military government.
Until last month, the refugees received food and medicine
from the Karen Refugee Committee (KRC), the Burma
Border Consortium and other non-governmental
organisations based in Thailand northern Tak province.
But the last supply, which was due on January 21, did not
arrive after Myanmar sent a letter of protest to Thai army.
The refugees at Maela Putha first fled the Myanmar army
early last year to live just inside Thailand. They returned
their villages in September only to flee again two months
Stopped from entering Thailand, they made camp on the
Myanmar side of the Moei River, which borders the two
A senior Thai army officer told Reuters the Karens had
returned voluntarily to the Myanmar side.
"We told them that if they wanted to live in Thailand they
would have to enter a camp and that we could not allow
them to live in disorder in the jungle any more," said
Chayudhi Boonpan, commander of the local military
The Karens said they did not want to enter a Thai camp
because they arrived at the border with all their livestock
still needed to be able to return to their home villages to
rice and other crops if their district became safe again.
They said Myanmar troops were currently stationed only
about two hours walk from their camp and they dared not go
deeper into the country to harvest their crops.
"We are too scared to go to get our rice from the villages,"
Di said. "If supplies don't come from the NGOs, people will
starve to death."
The KRC said it was negotiating with the Thai army on the
border for a resumption of food supplies to the refugee
"The Thai army has rules and regulations to abide by, but I
hope that for the sake of humanitarianism, the food supplies
will resume soon," said KRC chairwoman Mary On.
More than 100,000 Karen refugees live in camps in Thailand
after fleeing a decades-long war in their homeland between
the Myanmar army and the KNU, which is seeking greater
On Monday, Chayudhi said the Thai military was poised to
deport more than 800 other Karens who had entered Thai
He said the 800 were "economic migrants" who sneaked into
Huaykalok refugee camp, in northern Tak province, last
month and had not come to escape fighting.