On The Border


As the first wave of Myanmar refugees is repatriated from Thai border camps this week, returning to a home some have not seen for decades, others in the camps fear they will soon have no choice but to follow suit.

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Three border gates in eastern Shan State have been closed due to security concerns, according a representative of the Shan State government.

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The first, voluntary repatriation of 68 Burmese refugees from camps along the Thai-Burmese border began on Tuesday with the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR calling the movement a “milestone” while underscoring it would not lead to an exodus.

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The Karen State government has been making arrangements for the return of over 90 Burmese refugees from refugee camps in Thailand back to Burma.

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Myanmar has fired the police official charged with guarding its troubled border with Bangladesh, officials said on Monday, after deadly attacks that sparked fighting with insurgents allegedly inspired by Islamist militants.

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The death toll in northern Rakhine State has risen to more than 40 as security forces and unidentified insurgents continue to clash in the aftermath of a brazen October 9 assault on border security posts in Maungdaw and Rathedaung townships.

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The first round of Burmese refugee returns is reportedly taking place later this month from Nu Po refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border, with no exact date yet set.

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Security has been scaled up in Nga Yoke Kaung, a coastal sub-township in Irrawaddy Division that borders the southern tip of Arakan State, after attacks by assailants of unverified origin on border police posts in northern Arakan State on Sunday, followed by a ongoing manhunt.

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Around 90 residents of the Nu Po refugee camp in western Thailand have signed up for official repatriation to Burma.

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The closure of the international gate by Myanmar from Monday has crippled border trade.

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Thai and Myanmar authorities are registering Myanmar refugees who fled to Mae Hong Son province for repatriation, it was disclosed at the Thai-Myanmar Township Border Committee (TBC)’s meeting Thursday.

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The Karen National Union (KNU)’s vice-chair Padoh Naw Zipporah Sein visited Mae La, the largest Burmese refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border and explained the ongoing peace process to about 1,000 refugees.

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Nearly 1,000 Karen refugees crowded Wat Miang Yee Kung in Myanmar’s Pha Ang province, opposite Tak’s Phob Phra district, following the Myanmar government’s crackdown on the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) faction led by Colonel San Aung, a source in Karen State revealed yesterday.

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The Burma Army and the allied Border Guard Force (BGF) took at least three bases from a splinter group of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), as fighting escalated in Karen State’s Mae Tha Waw area on Thursday, amid claims that the Burma Army and the BGF have been forcibly conscripting locals as porters.

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Development along the border between Myanmar and China has heated up as trade between the two countries has surged. Few places represent this trend as well as this town in Myanmar’s Shan State, on the opposite bank of the Shweli River from China’s Yunnan Province.

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Clashes have been reported over the weekend in Karen State between a splinter group of the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) and the Burma Army-aligned Border Guard Force (BGF).

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Burma’s Ministry of Immigration and Population will allow tourists from 100 countries holding electronic visas to enter Burma through three cities on the Thai border, starting on Sept. 1.

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The Indian Army is maintaining pressure on insurgent groups with “seek-and-destroy operations and surgical strikes” along the 1,643-km porous land border with Myanmar, even as external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is slated to visit Naypyidaw on Monday.

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The Myanmar military has denied there was a recent exchange of gunfire on Myanmar soil between the Indian army and an ethnic armed group, state media reported on 22 August.

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Myanmar will not allow its territory to be used for any anti-India activities, this was conveyed by Myanmarese leaders to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who assured “all help” to the new government that came to power in March after decades of military rule. In the first high-level visit from India after the civilian government assumed office in Naypyidaw, Swaraj called on President U Htin Kyaw and held talks with State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi on key bilateral issues, including cross-border activities by certain insurgent groups.

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