Prayut: People fleeing Myanmar violence will not be turned away

Prayut: People fleeing Myanmar violence will not be turned away

Karen fleeing the violence in Myanmar, on the Salween river bank in Mae Hong Son's Mae Sam Lap on Monday. (Photo: Karen Women's Organisation/Reuters)
Karen fleeing the violence in Myanmar, on the Salween river bank in Mae Hong Son's Mae Sam Lap on Monday. (Photo: Karen Women's Organisation/Reuters)

Thailand will not deny entry to people fleeing the violence in Myanmar, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Tuesday, as the lethal crackdown on protests against the Feb 1 military coup there continued.

"Thailand will not turn them away," Gen Prayut said. "When they are in trouble, we will not deny them entry to our country."

The prime minister said the worsening situation in Myanmar was forcing civilians to flee to the Thai border. The influx started last week after the Myanmar army began air attacks against the Karen National Union (KNU). About 3,000 Karen people had fled across the border to Thailand.

They crossed the Salween river and were staying at Mae Sam Laep in Mae Sariang district of Mae Hong Son.

The air attacks began after the KNU joined protests against the military coup. KNU fighters also blocked food deliveries to government soldiers in Papun district of Karen state, according to The Irrawaddy.

More than a dozen people were allowed to cross into Mae Sam Lap on Tuesday to receive medical treatment.

Gen Prayut said the government would send them back when the situation across the border was deemed safe.

Thailand already hosts about 100,000 refugees from Myanmar at camps along the border.

There were more than 400,000 refugees at the peak of earlier clashes along the mountainous border between Myanmar government troops and ethnic armed groups seeking autonomy or independence.

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