Stranded Lay Kay Kaw Villagers Need Assistance

By Network Media Group
Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Thousands of villagers displaced after the Burma Army (BA) attack on the Karen National Union (KNU) “peace town” Lay Kay Kaw last week are stranded in the jungles of Myawaddy Township and in desperate need of help.

According to Naw Hser Hser, secretary of the Women’s League of Burma (WLB), 2,000 people in Mae Wah Khee are in need of assistance. ”As far as I know, the KNU is preparing to rescue them,” she told NMG. She explained that some of them have travelled to the border and will enter Thailand if the situation remains unstable.

Karen donors have provided them with basic food items such as rice, cooking oil and salt, but Naw Hser Hser said they need more support if the fighting continues. While the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is helping the 2,500 Karen refugees that have already entered Thailand, she wants the international donor groups to provide cross-border assistance to the displaced civilians still in Karen State.

”If the conflict continues, there will be more IDPs (internally displaced persons) in the border areas… We’re concerned about an air strike by the Burma Army,” she said, calling on the international community to put pressure on the regime not to attack civilians.

On 14 December, BA’s Light Infantry Brigade 560 raided Lay Kay Kaw and abducted 13 people, including a National League for Democracy MP Wai Lin Aung while searching for dissident activists in the town. According to the Karen Information Centre, locals said the military fired about 20 artillery shells the next day at an area of the town where they suspected members of the People’s Defence Forces (PDF) were. Throughout the day, fighting broke out with the military wing of the KNU, the Karen National Liberation Army Brigade 6.

Lay Kay Kaw was established in February 2015 with support from the Japanese Nippon Foundation to house returning refugees from Thailand and IDPs along the border after the KNU signed a union-level peace agreement with Thein Sein’s government several years earlier.