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10,000 Karen refugees heading to Thailand by KIC

April 29, 2010

Humanitarian groups on the Thai Burma border estimate 10,000 refugees are on their way to Thailand. More than 300 Karen villagers fled their homes on Tuesday night and Wednesday and have begun their exodus into Thailand at Waw Ley, south of Mae Sot.

The villagers are escaping fighting between the Burma Army and Democratic Karen Buddhist Army soldiers who are opposed to plans to form a Border Guard Force.

The villagers are also scared that a decision reached today, Wednesday, by some leaders of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army to accept the Burma military regime’s plans for a Border Guard Force, will escalate the conflict.

Villagers are worried the decision by the DKBA to restructure their army under the auspices of the BGF will also result in forced recruitment among civilians.

The contentious decision by some DKBA leaders to accept the BGF also leaves many of their officers and soldiers angry.

To ensure they got the decision they wanted, the Burma Army showed their strength by moving 10 battalions by truck into DKBA territory.

A DKBA captain, annoyed at the BGF decision, told KIC there would now be two DKBA armies and the possibility of conflict between them was real.

“There will be a split in the DKBA. The ‘for’ group are arguing that if we don’t join [the BGF] there will be war and more suffering for our Karen people. But our people are already suffering.”

At the time of writing, humanitarian and medical groups and Karen leaders are concerned the impact of an estimated 10,000 refugees will have on their services.

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