By Kantarawaddy Times
Karenni refugees living in Thailand’s Mae Hong Son, feeling unsettled by the Military Council’s frequent airstrikes in Burma close to their border camp, are digging bunkers as they fear they too will be attacked.
“They can often hear the sound of jets flying along the border. Some people will hide in their bunker every time they hear the sounds of aircraft,” said Naw Moo Thaw, chairperson of Karenni Refugee Camp 1. She couldn’t say how many of the residents of the camp, which was established over 20 years ago, have dug the bunkers.
As fighting has increased around the border area since several units of the Karenni National People’s Liberation Front, formerly a Border Guard Force under the Burma army, defected several months ago, the airstrikes have increased. In July, the military flew airstrikes against the Daw Hnoe Ku camp in Karenni State, only about 5 km from Camp 1 in Thailand. The Military Council has also been sending soldiers, weapons, and food rations by air to its camps along the border.
Responding to rumors that the Military Council will attack the Thai refugee camp, Khu Taw Reh S, judicial minister for the Karenni National Progressive Party, said that it’s highly unlikely. However, some people pointed out how the army attacked Camp 1 and some Thai villages in 1997, damaging homes.
“Nobody can guarantee our security, and that’s why we are digging bunkers,” a male refugee told Kantarawaddy Times, asking to remain anonymous.
There are two Karenni refugee camps in Thailand, home to over 10,000 people.