The Karen National Union (KNU), a ethnic minority rebel group in Myanmar, said that since the military coup in February, nearly 1,000 people have fled Burmese towns and sought asylum in militia-controlled areas along the Thai border.
Reuters reported that a Karen National League official said that there are currently nearly 1,000 people taking refuge in KNU-controlled territory. The Myanmar Civil Rights Organization Political Prisoners Aid Association said that Myanmar security forces have killed at least 217 people in the process of suppressing demonstrators.
KNU Foreign Affairs Officer Sotani said in an interview: “There are hundreds of people in our area now.” “Some are strike leaders, some are involved in civil disobedience, government workers…the deserters of the police and the army, and some Members of Congress and doctors.”
He said there are also a few people seeking asylum in another area of Shan State (Shan) in northeastern Myanmar controlled by militias.
The Thai authorities are providing assistance to a large number of refugees and said that they have reserved a place for more than 43,000 people in Mae Sot County on the Thai-Myanmar border. Thai Army Colonel Prasang also said that the authorities have stepped up border patrols. He said: “If there is a conflict, we must assess the situation and prepare these places.”
“In our experience, when the situation is safer, many people may go back because their home is on the other side.”