Since December of 2021, in a continuation of the year long military dictatorship that is devastating Burma, the army has been attacking Karen settlements just across the river from where we are in Mae Sot. Close enough that we can hear the explosions from the artillery bombardment. This has forced several thousand civilians to flee to the Thai/Burma border far safety. Many crossed the river, which is the functional border, to the Thai side. But there isn’t much room where they are permitted to stay. Many more are camped out just on the Burma side of the river, as close as they can get to safety and aid, crossing the river for supplies brought to them by all who are working to help refugees and IDPs (Internally Displaced People) in this time of crisis.
We have been working hard to triage the situation in collaboration with our local partners and provide aid where it is most needed. So far the greater need is for the IDPs still on the Burma side of the river. The situation isn’t good for anyone, but those who are taking refuge on the Thailand side of the river are slightly better off and have a little bit more supportive infrastructure already established. By “better” we don’t, by any means, want you to imagine that they are in a situation you or I would ever want ourselves or our children to have to endure. But they are in better shape than the newcomer IDP groups whose villages have just been shelled, occupied, or seeded with land mines. These families are not set up or in any way settled on the river, and are generally the worst off.
We are collaborating with as many competent local networks as possible to find the gaps and plug the holes, working together to try to stabilize the situation. We do this while hoping and praying that others are taking the necessary and right action to fix the conflict that is at the source of all this suffering and pain.
One of the biggest needs is clean drinking water! Escaping the military is one thing, but getting sick from contaminated water often kills more displaced people than the fighting itself.
Earlier this month we supplied 15 water filters, and related supplies, to the temporary camp on the Thai side of the border. These are able to supply clean drinking water to about 3000 people each day.
Just today we brought 10 more water filters, and training in how to set up and use them, as well as three truck loads full of food supplies: fresh vegetables and eggs, rice, dried beans, and oil to a group sheltering on the Burma side of the river.
We’re so thankful that we have the water filters on hand, thanks to partnership with The Water Bearers, and thankful to our friends at Big Life who gave the money needed to buy food and supplies we gave out today so that we are able to meet this immediate and urgent need for families driven from their homes by the actions of a military dictatorship inside their own country.
Humanitarian aid and relief is not one of our primary programs, but when we are able to meet a need in a crisis we are thrilled to be able to step up and bring your care to these horrible and desperate situations.