Myanmar + 1 more

Myanmar - Thailand: Over 200 Karenni Denied Refugee Registration

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By Saw Yan Naing

Another 30 Karenni refugees fleeing o­n-going conflicts in a military offensive of the Burma's army in Karenni State arrived at the Thai border o­n Monday, but their fate-like more than 200 Karenni who fled before them-is anyone's guess.

The latest Karenni group, including children and women, are living in a Karenni refugee camp in Thailand's Mae Hong Son Province, according to the Karenni Refugee Committee.

More than 200 Karenni refugees have sought safety in Thailand since the beginning of January, when the latest military offensive began.

A senior official of the Karenni Refugee Committee (KNRC) told The Irrawaddy o­n Wednesday, "Thai authorities haven't allowed them to register as refugees. They reasoned that they o­nly accept newcomers who have fled their home because of the war."

An official of KNRC said, "It really depends o­n Thai authorities. If they don't allow them to register, it will be really difficult for us to support long-term rations, shelter and medical treatment."

The senior KNRC official said that some villagers' houses were burned by the government troops and some of the refugees were also used as forced labor.

The KNRC is working with Thai authorities in an effort to acquire refugee registration.

Rimond Htoo, the general secretary of the Karenni National Progressive Party, said, "The government troops accused them [Karenni refugees] of having a connection with our Karenni rebel group. The troops frequently questioned and interrogated them."

More than 20,000 registered Karenni refugees from Burma live in two Karenni refugee camps in northwestern Mae Hong Son Province.

Last week, Thai authorities refused entry to a group of ethnic Karen refugees who fled from Karen State following o­n-going attacks by the government troops against Karen rebels.