Govt ready to provide more aid if Myanmar violence worsens
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Govt ready to provide more aid if Myanmar violence worsens

Thailand is considering offering more humanitarian aid to Myanmar citizens as Asean has expressed concern about a recent escalation of conflict between the Myanmar military and rebel forces.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday held a weekly update on international issues around Thailand in the past week.

Nikorndej Balankura, a ministry spokesman, said Thailand has attached importance to providing humanitarian aid to Myanmar citizens affected by the fighting and more may be provided as the need arises.

The government will also look at ways to increase humanitarian assistance by coordinating with international organisations and civil organisations that work along the border during the ongoing crisis.

"We plan to invite these organisations to share their opinions next week. We still continue to provide aid to all sides equally," said Mr Nikorndej, also the director-general of the ministry's Department of Information.

The government previously had delivered 4,000 bags of relief supplies at a ceremony held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the second Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge in Tak on March 25.

The relief bags donated by The Thai Red Cross Society contained rice, dried food and other essentials and were passed on to the Myanmar Red Cross Society to be distributed in Myanmar's Kayin state.

The bags were eventually given to about 20,000 villagers in three pilot locations in the towns of Hpa-an and Kawkareik.

Mr Nikorndej added that Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has ordered the creation of a committee to monitor the situation in Myanmar, and it will hold its first meeting next week.

He said Thailand is ready to hold talks with all parties in Myanmar to help find a solution to the ongoing conflict.

"As a neighbouring country, Thailand supports dialogue that will lead to peace, stability and unity in Myanmar," he added.

On Thursday, Asean foreign ministers issued a joint statement expressing concern about the escalation of armed conflict in Myanmar.

"We are concerned over the recent escalation of conflicts, including in the area of Myawaddy, Kayin State, along the border area between Myanmar and Thailand and in Rakhine State of Myanmar, which have caused displacement of civilians.

"To avoid further humanitarian impacts of such escalation of all forms of conflicts, we urge all parties for an immediate cessation of violence and to exercise utmost restraint to uphold international humanitarian law

"[They should also] take all the necessary measures to defuse tensions and to ensure the protection and safety of all civilians, including foreign nationals and citizens of Asean member states," it said.

The Asean ministers also called on all parties to take urgent steps towards mitigating the impact of conflicts on civilians, including creating a safe and conducive environment to ensure the timely and safe delivery of humanitarian assistance to all those in need in Myanmar without discrimination.

They also expressed support for efforts by the AHA Centre and Thailand's humanitarian cross-border initiative, which are in line with the Five-Point Consensus, as well as coordination with the Asean chair and its special envoy on Myanmar.

It added: "We call for the mobilisation of support for efforts towards humanitarian talks in addressing the humanitarian consequences in Myanmar and for an inclusive national dialogue toward a durable and comprehensive political solution in Myanmar".

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