Myanmar + 1 more

Karen fighting forces 700 to flee

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By NAW NOREEN

Fighting in eastern Burma that broke out two weeks ago is showing no signs of letting up, with some 700 refugees now believed to have fled to neighbouring Thailand.

The majority of the refugees who crossed the border on 3 and 4 May are believed to be women and children from Kyarinnseikgyi township, and are now sheltering in Tak province’s Umphang district.

Tak governor Samart Loifah said that government officials had been sent to meet with them and were providing food and water at the temporary encampments.

“They will provide what is necessary for our brothers and sisters who arrived,” he said, adding however that “the situation is not very bad” and they could return by the end of the week.

A number of refugees who have fled Karen state since fighting first erupted in November last year have said that they are too scared to return, while a number of rights groups warn that the situation remains unstable.

The Karen Human Rights Group’s field coordinator, Saw Albert, said that some villagers were injured in the Kyarinnseikgyi fighting.

“They don’t fight like all day long but in short intervals –one or two fire fights every day. We heard some villagers were hurt but we’re still trying to learn how many,” he said.

Two villages are believed to have been affected by latest flare up between Burmese troops and an alliance of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA).

Thailand has meanwhile increased security along its border with Burma. A coalition of aid groups based along of Thai-Burma border is also providing assistance to the refugees.