Karen refugees return home after fighting ends

MAE HONG SON, Dec 27 – Thai authorities on Monday repatriated a number of Karen refugees to Myanmar after clashes between Myanmar troops and Karen rebels ended.

Thai paramilitary rangers, administrative officials, and officials of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) helped refugees at Sob Yuam military base in Mae Hong Son’s Sop Moei district to return home.

Sixty-five persons, mostly women and children from 13 families, have travelled back home in an one-hour trip by long-tailed boats provided by the Thai authorities.

On Saturday, in Tak’s Phop Phra district, 250 ethnic Karenni were sent back home through a temporary border checkpoint.

Although, some NGO activists called for the Thai authorities to let them stay longer, the government insisted that the repatriation must continue given that the fighting on the other side of the border had died down.

The repatriation came after some Thai villagers in North Valley sub-district expressed concern about a possible outbreak after deputy village head Sutham Suwansri, who visited the refugees, fell ill with Menincoccal disease.

Officials cleaned the temporary shelter after refugees left.

Fighting between Karen rebels and Myanmar armed forces erupted in November after its first election in 20 years, forcing thousands of Myanmar civilians to flee across the border into Thailand. (MCOT online news)

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