People Displaced by Burma Army in Karen State Facing Crisis – Aid Workers Call for Food, Medicine, Clean Water to be Urgently Delivered

Karen villagers bombed from their homes by airstrikes are in urgent need of food, warm clothing, medicine, sanitation and clean water. Adding to the difficulties of getting humanitarian aid to the displaced are official restrictions put in place by Thai authorities.

Karen Civil Society Organizations, delivering and providing assistance to people fleeing the Burma Army have confirmed about 7,000 Karen villagers from Papun district, northern Karen State are hiding in the Thai-Burma border area. The villages were destroyed by the Burma’s air force in retaliation for seizure of a military base on the 27th of April by the Karen National Liberation Army. It is estimated as many as 3,000 displaced Karen are reported to have fled into Thailand.

Naw Kanyaw Paw, Secretary of Karen Women’s Organization, told Karen News she was concerned the approaching monsoon season would have a devastating effect on the welfare of villagers who fled the attacks.

“On the first night of the attacks, there was heavy rain which caused flash flooding. Food and belongings washed away and were destroyed. Vulnerable people like elders, children and sick people couldn’t walk so they had to be carried. The conditions people are in right now is challenging. Thai authorities are blocking roads and have put harsh restrictions in place, stopping us reaching the people – we couldn’t provide assistance.”

To add to the villagers concerns of living with the constant fear of airstrikes, the desperate living conditions have expose them to the risk of disease.

Saw Doe Doh EhKaLu, a Karen medic from the Karen Department of Health and Welfare has been treating displaced people explained to Karen News why the current conditions will result in a health crisis if humanitarian assistance is not delivered.

“I’m now treating so much diseases. Common illnesses include dysentery, lung infections, urinary tract infections and many others. The living conditions are basic and people do not have access to clean water with good sanitation, so the future of these communities is at greater risks of being exposed to a whole range of infections and diseases.”

The latest report from field based health workers show that insufficient medical supplies and treatments resulted to three deaths of the recent displaced communities.

Thai soldiers deployed on the border are known to be recording the number of displaced Karen people who reach Thailand. However, food and shelter are not provided so displaced people have to be rely on the limited resources they managed to carry with them.

Fighter jets have flown into Karen National Union controlled areas 27 times and dropped 47 bombs, killing 14 civilians and wounding 28.

Since the Burma military launched its coup on 1st of February, there has been 407 armed battles between KNU and the military regime and 50,000 Karen civilians have been displaced and are hiding in makeshift camps as a direct result of these attacks.

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