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Fact-Finding Mission: Humanitarian Aid to the Thai-Myanmar Border with ASEAN Parliamentarians

March 4th, 2024  •  Author:   ASEAN Parliamaterians for Human Rights , People's Empowerment Foundation  •  3 minute read
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Report, March 2024

Between November 13-16, 2023, APHR and PEF organized a fact-finding mission with a delegation led by Members of Parliament to the border towns of Northern Thailand – Mae Hong Son and Mae Sariang – to assess how the current human rights situation is impacting ethnic communities from the Karen and Karenni States. The mission sought to engage with internally displaced people and refugees about their challenges and hear their calls for policy and protection reforms.

During the four-day fact-finding mission, parliamentarians from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand spoke with local organizations, displaced communities and first responders to hear about their situation and challenges as well as to consult with community-based organizations to listen to what solutions must be immediately advocated for.

INTRODUCTION

It has been over three years since the failed coup in Myanmar. Since then, the human rights situation has rapidly descended into deeply concerning levels of violence deployed against a largely unarmed civilian population at the direction of war criminals who are responsible for widespread and systematic atrocities.

The civilian impact of the conflict cannot be underestimated. Ongoing artillery firing and air strikes have driven thousands from their homes. According to the UN, there are more than 2 million people displaced in Myanmar. However, this number is likely significantly higher based on documentation from local civil society organizations who are active on the ground in conflict-areas and regularly providing humanitarian relief and assistance. While some have fled to other parts of the country in urban areas, others have sought shelter and protection along the Myanmar border shared with Thailand. While Thailand has not signed the 1951 Refugee Convention, it unofficially hosts nine refugee camps, where at least 90,000 have sought refuge since the 1980s. Refugees, some of whom have been stuck in limbo for years, are strictly confined behind fences and barred from seeking employment in Thailand. According to the Karen Peace Support Network, the current food ration is valued at approximately 300 THB or 10 USD monthly.

The challenges faced by displaced communities are immense. Thousands are deeply traumatized by the violence deployed against them, their families, and their communities. For months at a time, internally displaced people must constantly seek out safety and shelter to avoid being caught in the junta’s crossfire of violence. Those who attempt to return to their villages risk further persecution, including arbitrary arrest, torture, and even death. With no place to call home and a lack of secure education, livelihood, and accountability pathways, there is an urgent and profoundly pressing need to address the current situation.


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