Fresh clashes force many Karen to flee -UNHCR says today could be 6400 IDP
Tuesday, 09 June 2009 21:33
New Delhi (Mizzima) – Over 3,500 Karen in eastern Burma have fled to neighbouring Thailand in the aftermath of fresh conflicts along the border between Karen armed rebels and the Burmese Army and its ally.
A member of the Thai-Burma border based Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People (CIDKP), which keeps tabs on and provides assistance to displaced people in Karen State told Mizzima that the refugee influx has risen sharply in the past few days as a result of fresh fighting along the border.
“People continue to flee to the border. There are now about 3,500 people here,” said Black Town, a member of the CIDKP.
He said the refugees are now being protected by the Thai Army and social groups. A coalition of International non-government organizations, the Thailand-Burma Border Consortium (TBBC), is providing food, medical care and other supplies.
“Villagers are forced to serve the military and are used as porters if they fail to give money to the army,” said Black Town.
David Takarpaw, Vice-Chairman of the Karen National Union, Burma’s longest operating armed group, said the Burmese Army and its ally, Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), a KNU splinter group have launched a fresh offensive against the KNU as of June 3.
The attacks were launched against the Karen National Liberation Army’s 7th Brigade on June 3, but fighting had stopped from Monday night. The KNLA is the armed wing of the KNU.
“Now the fighting has stopped. But we carefully monitoring the situation,” Takarpaw said.
Takarpaw said, like in earlier operations, the Burmese Army uses the DKBA forces to fight in the fore front while they stay behind and use mortars.
The fresh attacks could be aimed at diverting international attention from the ongoing trial against Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The KNU has been fighting against successive central governments of Burma since 1948 and are among the few armed groups that have not signed a ceasefire pact with the military junta.
“They planned to completely destroy our 7th Brigade but it is impossible. More soldiers from the DKBA will die. And they need to realize that,” said Takarpaw.