Thai Army Delivers Donated Aid To Karen Refugees

Thai Army Delivers Aid To Karen

The Third Army Region said on Monday that the government has shipped items donated by different organisations to Karen refugees fleeing the violence in Myanmar.

Its commander, Lt Gen Apichet Suesat, who is in charge of security in the North, said he had instructed the 36th Ranger Forces Regiment to deliver the donations, which included dried food and medicines, to Myanmar citizens sheltering on the banks of the Salween River, opposite the Thai border in Mae Hong Son.

Five boats were hired to deliver the donations, accompanied by rangers from the regiment who were tasked with ensuring the boats were protected as they made multiple trips to and from the riverbank on the Myanmar side of the border.

Lt Gen Suesat stressed that due to the current COVID-19 situation and the escalating conflict across the border, donations can only be delivered by authorities.

Between 2,000-3,000 refugees from Myanmar have crossed the border to seek shelter in Mae Hong Son’s Mae Sa Riang district.

Lt Gen Suesat said the refugees generally stayed on the Myanmar side of the border, but they would cross the river to seek shelter in Thai territory, usually at night, when they feel their lives were threatened.

The army is assisting with COVID-19 screening at checkpoints and patrolling natural border channels to prevent illegal entry.

More obstructions to stem illegal entry have been set up along the Thai-Myanmar border, he said.

Assistant army spokesperson Col Sirichan Ngathong said over 5,300 troops patrolling along the Thai-Myanmar border were vaccinated by the Public Health Ministry in March.

“Anti-COVID-19 measures are strictly maintained along Thailand’s borders,” she said.

A total of 3,625 soldiers in other army units have been vaccinated, most of whom are health workers and personnel working in Samut Sakhon.

Army spokesperson Lt Santipong Thammapiya said on Monday army chief Narongphan Jitkaewtae had instructed all army units to boost security for Thais living along the border and help prevent COVID-19 infections spreading from neighbouring countries.

The Thai military has extended humanitarian assistance to refugees in compliance with anti-COVID-19 measures, the spokesperson said, before adding that the refugees have been gradually returning to Myanmar since 27th March.

Around 2,700 Myanmar refugees crossed the Salween River to Thailand following the outbreak of fresh clashes in Myanmar on 26th-27th March opposite Mae Hong Son, Lt Thammapiya said.