41 Thais trapped by Myanmar fighting repatriated: army

By AFP   November 18, 2023 | 02:39 am PT
41 Thais trapped by Myanmar fighting repatriated: army
A general view of a camp of the Myanmar ethnic rebel group Chin National Front is seen on the Myanmar side of the India-Myanmar border close to the Indian village of Farkawn in the northeastern state of Mizoram, India, March 13, 2021. Photo by Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Forty-one Thais trapped in Myanmar for three weeks by an upsurge in fighting between the junta and an alliance of ethnic minority armed groups returned to the kingdom on Saturday, the Thai army said.

Fighting has raged since Oct. 27 across northern Shan state near the Chinese border after the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Arakan Army (AA) launched attacks on the military.

The Thai army said 41 Thais -- 23 men and 18 women -- working in a town near the Chinese border were repatriated Saturday to Thailand's border province of Chiang Rai.

"We have taken them by vehicle to Mae Sai in Chiang Rai," an army statement said.

"They will be provided with food and shelter, health check-up before sending them to Social Development and Human Security office."

Local media footage showed a number of Thai workers getting off a bus with their backpacks.

The army said it was also working with the kingdom's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and humanitarian NGOs to repatriate more than 260 Thai nationals believed to work in illegal online scam centers.

Online scam compounds have mushroomed in Myanmar's borderlands, staffed by citizens from China and other countries who are often trafficked and forced to work swindling their compatriots.

More than 200,000 people have been displaced by fighting in Myanmar since the Oct. 27 offensive was launched, according to the United Nations.

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