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Cablegate: More Displaced Karen Seek Shelter Along Thai-Burma Border

VZCZCXRO7495
PP RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHCHI #0212 3400929
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 060929Z DEC 06
FM AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0347
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK PRIORITY 0614
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI PRIORITY 0386
RHHJJPI/PACOM IDHS HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS CHIANG MAI 000212

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREF PREL BM TH
SUBJECT: MORE DISPLACED KAREN SEEK SHELTER ALONG THAI-BURMA BORDER

REF: CHIANG MAI 181 (CONCERNS OVER SPDC OFFENSIVE IN KAREN STATE)

1. Despite continued reports of increased attacks on and
displacement of civilians in Burma's Karen State, few have
crossed into Thailand, according to a National Intelligence
Agency (NIA) representative in Mae Sariang district.

2. The NIA contact estimated that 2,000 Internally Displaced
Persons (IDPs) are now gathered at Ei Tu Ko and Ei Tu Tha on the
Burmese side of the Salween River opposite Mae Sariang,
including a group of about 100 that arrived at the end of
November. These numbers correspond with reports by the
Irrawaddy online news service and the Free Burma Rangers relief
organization that Burma Army operations in Karen State have
driven thousands more civilians toward the Thai border.

3. Under long-standing Thai government policy, IDPs are not
permitted to cross into Thailand as long as they are unharmed on
the Burma side. Thai contacts in the area claim that those
involved, from the Karen National Union (KNU) to relief
agencies, seem satisfied with the current application of this
policy.

4. Acccording to the Mae Sariang-based NIA contact, these
recent border developments follow a familiar pattern seen since
November-December last year (reftel). Burma Army attacks on
ethnic Karen villagers in the Nyaunglebin-Toungoo area, possibly
to "clear the area" for the new capital Naypyidaw, he
speculated, have displaced thousands. He reported that the
IDP group has access to relief assistance from some EU
countries, is protected by KNU soldiers and has so far faced no
intimidation from regime troops. However KNU counterparts have
told him that more villagers from the two districts are headed
toward the border.

CAMP

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