Thousands flee fighting near site of dam backed by Thailand

As many as 10,000 people in Kayin State in Myanmar have been displaced due to fighting over the Hat Gyi Dam construction site, as plans move forward to begin building on the Salween River. Activists have reported a human rights crisis in the area as more than 1,000 refugees have been trapped in two small villages near the border with Thailand and lack proper housing, basic facilities and food. Fighting erupted last month between the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army insurgent group and the government-affiliated Border Guard Force in an area opposite Mae Tha Waw in Tak’s Tha Song Yang district (Kayin State was formerly known as Karen State after the ethnic group that have long inhabited that area). Karen Cultural and Development Centre director Surapong Kongchantuk said thousands of people had been forced to leave their homes and were struggling to survive in wartime conditions without substantial aid from international human rights organisations.

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