Burmese Karen Refugees Say They Are Being Refused by Thailand Despite Public Welcome

a group of people riding on the back of a boat: Thai authorities have denied thousands of Karen refugees seeking shelter across the border amid military airstrikes in Myanmar this week. Above, villagers bathe on the Thai side of the Salween River in Mae Hong Son province on March 31, 2021, across from where Myanmar refugees earlier attempted to cross the Thai-Myanmar border after military bombings in Karen state. © LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP via Getty Images Thai authorities have denied thousands of Karen refugees seeking shelter across the border amid military airstrikes in Myanmar this week. Above, villagers bathe on the Thai side of the Salween River in Mae Hong Son province on March 31, 2021, across from where Myanmar refugees earlier attempted to cross the Thai-Myanmar border after military bombings in Karen state.

Thai authorities continued to deny national entry to thousands of ethnic Karen people—members of a minority group residing primarily in southern and southeastern Myanmar—after they attempted to seek shelter across the border amid ongoing military airstrikes.

Violence has riddled Myanmar since military forces overtook the nation's elected government officials during a February coup, and air attacks this week forced large portions of the population to flee.

A majority of Karen refugees pursuing safety in Thailand were turned away upon arrival, with 2,000 redirected back to their original residences in Myanmar, according to the Karen National Union.

"The KNU strongly condemns the Burmese military who sent airstrikes targeting villages and a school in our Karen area. Villagers, including under aged children, have been killed by air strikes on the 27, 28, and 29th March 2021. Many are injured," the union wrote in a statement posted to Twitter on Monday. "As a result there are around 10,000 newly displaced IDP's [International Displaced Persons]."

Burmese Karen Refugees Say They Are Being Refused by Thailand Despite Public Welcome