Region of Concern: Myanmar; Thailand
Written By Avinash Persaud; Edited by Salomon Montaguth and Jennifer Loy
Date: March 31, 2023
Kayah State, Myanmar Map
Event: Myanmar’s junta conducted airstrikes on a high school in Demoso Township, Kayah State, on March 29. Military jets attacked seven times, killing one man and injuring another. Five aid workers and 15 civilians were inside the high school. The high school was hosting a medical center for residents and displaced civilians. Launching an attack against medical personnel in a non-international armed conflict is considered a violation of international humanitarian law. According to the Karenni Human Rights Group, Myanmar’s junta conducted these airstrikes without provocation, to maintain a hold on its power.
Significance: Myanmar’s junta will very likely target other medical centers with airstrikes to eliminate the possibility of resistance fighters, including the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF), from receiving medical attention. To avoid airstrikes, aid workers and civilians will very likely seek nearby shelters in established refugee camps in Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Province. The withdrawal of aid workers and the destruction of medical centers will very likely force civilians into using folk medicine, which will likely spread diseases, exacerbate specific illnesses, and increase the number of deaths. Myanmar’s civilian National Unity Government (NUG) will very likely restrict international NGOs’ access to the Kayah State to prevent humanitarian worker deaths, which will very likely intensify the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar. Aid workers and international NGOs will very likely request the Thai government’s permission to develop more medical centers and refugee camps along the Myanmar-Thailand border.
Recommendations: The KNDF should increase military protection for Myanmar civilians and aid workers traveling to Thailand for asylum. Local human rights groups such as the Karenni Human Rights Group and the Karenni National Women’s Organization should provide aid and information about the Myanmar junta’s military positions, easing the journey to Thailand. International NGOs should work with local human rights groups and the KNDF to help develop and deliver medical packages with instructions for civilians unable to leave Myanmar. The Thai government should help Myanmar aid workers and international NGOs develop more shelters and medical centers along the border and expand its national healthcare coverage to include asylum seekers. They should also request international financial assistance to help develop more refugee camps during the ASEAN Summit in November. Myanmar aid workers should request an increase of doctors, medical supplies, food, and mental health professionals from The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Companies and banks within Japan, South Korea, and Singapore should refrain from conducting business with Myanmar military-owned entities to ensure that international sanctions diminish the junta’s foreign currency reserves, which they use to purchase weapons and military equipment.
 Myanmar Junta Jets Attack Medics in Kayah State, The Irrawaddy, March 2023, https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmar-junta-jets-attack-medics-in-kayah-state.html