Thousands flee Myawaddy fighting only to be stranded along Myanmar-Thai border

Unable to return home due to widespread destruction and continued military tension, internally displaced persons shelter along the river separating the two countries

As the military and ethnic Karen resistance forces fought for control of the border trade hub of Myawaddy this month, thousands of people from the township fled to neighbouring Thailand, before being sent back to Myanmar, joining a growing population of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the region.

The Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army (KNU/KNLA) claimed control of the strategic Karen State town on April 11 after intensifying clashes with the junta. They held the town for nearly two weeks. 

According to estimates from the Overseas Irrawaddy Association (OIA), a local social welfare group helping the IDPs, some 15,000 people fled their homes during the battles for Myawaddy, sheltering in monasteries and makeshift camps along the Moei River—known as the Thaungyin in Burmese—which separates the township from Thailand.

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